I was at tonight's Vipers-Warriors game as Vernon defeated West Kelowna 3-2 in front of 985 fans at Royal LePage Place.
Vernon: Cole Demers
West Kelowna: Xavier Burghardt
1st Period: Three and a half minutes into the opening frame veteran forward Quin Foreman went around one Viper defender before coming in one on one, Foreman went around the last Vipers defenceman before cutting hard to the goal, went high and over the net just missing the far corner on a great opportunity for West Kelowna to open the scoring. On the following shift-play back come Vernon. Christian Cakebread with a strong forecheck won the puck battle along the end wall, fired a shot from the goal line that looked to catch Xavier Burghardt off guard who was forced into making a difficult save, kicked out a big rebound to Brett Stapley who ripped a quick shot from the high slot forcing Burghardt into standing tall, making the save on a good chance by the Vipers. Off the following faceoff back come West Kelowna, the Warriors with a goal mouth scramble couldn't find the back of the net after several wacks at the loose puck in the blue paint. Cole Demers was down and out and with a ton of traffic in front of and in the crease somehow managed to keep the puck out after a flurry of chances in tight from the Warriors. Shortly after the definding National Champions would get the games first powerplay. With a ton of pressure, the Warriors moved the puck around, had several quality chances couldn't solve Demers who come up with some big saves as the Vipers were under attack on the penalty kill. WK firing everything towards the net couldn't capitalize with the man advantage as the Vipers got some solid goaltending were able to kill off the minor. Just over a minute later the Warriors would jump back on the powerplay. And once again West Kelowna's powerplay went to work. Getting several clean shots towards the goal, had some grade a scoring chances couldn't beat Cole Demers who was hot early on. Demers for a second straight penalty kill was forced into making some key saves keeping this game scoreless. The Warriors with a strong attack had several good looks-opportunities couldn't open the scoring. Seventeen seconds after the penalty expired Mitchell Oliver spotted Austin Adamson who went in two on one with Levi Johnson, Adamson kept and fired beat Xavier Burghardt high for his first career BCHL goal, gave Vernon a 1-0 lead at 12:56 Oliver with the lone assist. Two minutes later Niko Karamanis setup Christian Cakebread on the two on one rush, but the pass was just a wee bit behind Cakebread who couldn't get a good shot off was easily stopped by Xavier Burghardt. On the following play Shane Kelly hit Connor Sodergren who went down and didn't get up. Kelly was given a minor giving WK their third man advantage of the period. A few Warriors tried going after Kelly who was stopped by the linesmen, were giving it to Kelly as he made his way to the penalty box. Sodergren was very slow to get up, was attended too and helped off the ice by the trainer, went straight to the Warriors dressing room. Sodergren wouldn't return to the bench. Another strong powerplay from the Warriors, with lots of pressure would finally solve Cole Demers after Jake Harrison's point shot was redirected in front by Braiden Epp tying the game 1-1 at 17:47 Harrison with the helper. The Vipers argued that Cooper Watson took a high stick to the face on the play, but the goal stood. Just less then a minute later the Vipers would get their first look with the PP and capitalize early. Just thirty seconds into the man advantage Jimmy Lambert setup a wide open Christian Cakebread who had all day to hit the open cage gave Vernon a 2-1 lead at 19:29 Lambert & Chris Jandric picked up the assists. Vernon was up 2-1 after 20 minutes of play. This was a very good-entertaining hockey game with both teams fairly evenly matched. The Warriors had more shots due to three powerplays. Both teams had several good looks-opportunities. West Kelowna with a very strong looking powerplay, couldn't beat Cole Demers who was solid in the opening frame, kept the Vipers in the game shorthanded. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 20-14.
2nd Period: Connor Sodergren returned to the game after taking a hit late in the opening frame was now wearing a cage. Two minutes into the middle frame Niko Karamanis lead the attack on a Viper three on one. Karamanis setup a trailing Jimmy Lambert who then dished off to Chrstian Cakebread on the wing who couldn't beat Warriors starting goaltender Xavier Burghardt. The Vipers with a great chance early to start the 2nd period. WK responded and come back with a strong push. The Warriors really turned up the pace, come at Vernon with a strong forecheck, were all over the Vipers early and often. West Kelowna controlling the edge in play early were winning the races, puck battles along the wall and getting several quality chances. Once again Vipers starting goaltender and Kelowna native Cole Demers was forced into making some big saves, keeping this a one goal game. Vernon would get the lone powerplay of the period, had a few good looks-chances but couldn't capitalize with the man advantage. The Vipers struggled with their passing, turned over the puck way too often were having all kinds of trouble getting out of their own end. The puck wasn't sticking to the Vernon sticks, was bouncing all over the ice. With just under eight minutes to go, Tyler Jutting with a long hard shot from just inside the blueline looked to handcuff Demers who made a difficult save. A minute or so later veteran Scott Allen ripped a rockety of a shot from the blueline that took a skip off the ice forced the Vipers goaltender into making another difficult save as the puck come up on Demers at the last second. The Warriors with back to back chances couldn't get the bounce they were looking for. It was 2-1 Vernon after 40 minutes of play. It was all Warriors in the middle frame after West Kelowna carried most of if not all of the play. The Warriors with several opportunities couldn't capitalize on their chances. The Vipers struggled offensively, had very little zone time, played most of the period in their own end. Vernon's 4th line may have saw one maybe two shifts the entire period. For a second straight period Cole Demers made some key-big saves keeping his team in the game. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 13-11.
3rd Period: Inside the opening minute Warriors bench boss Rylan Ferster was really giving the referee an earful after a stoppage in play. On the following faceoff, Austin Adamson won the draw, went to the net beat Xavier Burghardt in close put Vernon up 3-1 at 1:06 Adamson's goal was unassisted. The Warriors would respond with a strong push back, WK come right back with a few hard working shifts didn't get any real scoring chances had some good pressure in the Vernon zone. The Warriors would get the lone powerplay of the final frame just less then five minutes into the 3rd. This time it was the Viper penalty kill that went to work, come up with several key blocked shots, really battled kept West Kelowna to the outside, really limited their shots-chances before Braiden Epp would cut the Vernon lead to 3-2 just as the penalty expired at 6:55 Mitchell Barker and Stephen Kleysen picked up the assists. From here on it both teams worked extremely hard, as the play went back and fourth but neither team generated/created a lot of scoring chances. Both teams played very well defensively down the stretch, limiting the opponent to very little opportunities. Sure both teams had some chances but no real quality chances. In the second half Vernon really stepped up their forecheck and really took a lot of time off the clock eating up several minutes ragging the puck-play along the wall. The Warriors would get Xavier Burghardt to the bench for the extra attacker with 1:23 remaining. With a strong push inside the final minute and few seconds the Warriors tried getting the puck to the front of the net. Brett Stapley coughed up the puck before Quin Foreman was denied with fifty four seconds to go on a good chance in close. The Vipers were finally able to clear the zone, lifted the puck up into the air before it landed inside the Warriors blueline. Jimmy Lambert with a burst of speed raced for the loose puck, couldn't hit the open cage as a Warrior defender was able to get tangled up with Lambert on the play. WK would get the play back in deep and with time winding down get the puck to Quin Foreman who was able to get off a wrap around with fourteen seconds remaining, Cole Demers had to be alert was somehow able to reach out and snag the loose puck as it looked like it was going to drop in behind the Viper netminder and into the back of the net, on a very close call. The Vipers were able to get control of the puck, clear the zone before the final buzzer and come away with the 3-2 victory. Both teams battled and competed hard in a period where there wasn't a lot of room-scoring chances at both ends of the rink. Both teams were very evenly matched as the play went back and fourth for most of the final twenty minutes. Both teams played very well defensively, not giving up many if any quality chances. Both teams looked to shorten their benches going down to three lines. The Vipers 4th line didn't see a shift this period. Late in the game Vernon went down to two lines. A very exciting-entertaining final period and finish to the game. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 12-9.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
For a second straight night the Vipers top line of Brett Stapley, Hunter Zandee and Steven Jandric was very strong. This unit saw a ton of ice through out the game. Stapley has really turned into a solid first line forward this season. Just his second season in Vernon has come along ways from last year. One of the Vipers hardest working kids, battled and competed all night. Was very good with the puck along the boards, made some nice smart plays to create-generate some offence. Zandee also worked-played hard through out the game, showed a ton of hustle, was skating hard, earned the puck battles along the boards, won a lot of races to the puck. Jandric also worked hard, battled down low.
Austin Adamson (2 goals) Scored his first career BCHL goal in the opening frame didn't generate much for offensive chances, just scored on his opportunities. Was in the right place at the right time. Another kid who worked and battled hard for a full sixty minutes. Does the little things away from the play that a lot of people don't see or notice.
Carter Stephenson I thought played very well on the Viper backend. Was solid all night.
Niko Karamanis didn't pick up any points but was creating-generating chances through out the night. Really sees-reads the ice well, a good skater, soft hands, has a lot of offensive up side to his game.
Cole Demers (39 saves) Had a very strong game between the pipes, getting the win in his hometown. Was solid making several big saves, especially in the 1st and 2nd periods. Demers kept Vernon in the game in the 1st after coming up big on the penalty kill. Then in the 2nd with the Vipers being outplayed for most of the period, the rookie goaltender made some key saves at key times in the game, to give his team a chance to win.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
Other then the middle frame I thought the Vipers played very well. The Vipers with another strong game for a second straight night, worked hard and earned the victory. The Vipers penalty kill was very good, got some big saves-timely saves from Cole Demers who gave his team a chance to win. Vernon scored some timely goals, played well defensively with the lead, well other then the 2nd period. After being outplayed and outchanced in the 2nd period, I liked how the Vipers stepped up their play and turned up their play come the 3rd, they were hard to defend against with the forecheck. Vernon's defence was very good in the final twenty minutes as well. The Vipers got some big saves from Demers in the 2nd period, got some luck and excaped not giving up a goal in the middle frame. The Viper defence did a good job at shutting down West Kelowna's snipers, limited their chances through out the final twenty minutes. Other then the 2nd period I thought both teams were pretty evenly matched. West Kelowna had a little more pressure-zone time in the opening time with three powerplays. The Vipers were going-shooting high on Xavier Burghardt most of the night. Vernon with points in four straight games pick up their first win in West Kelowna since a 7-4 victory on October 18th 2014. This was just the Vipers second win over the Warriors in their last twelve meetings. A big win on the road in a tough building to play in start the three game road trip off right. The Vipers travel to Merritt Wednesday.
Top Player's: (West Kelowna)
Jake Harrison (1 assist) Played very well on the blueline. Was very strong through out the night.
Quin Foreman always dangerous with the puck, had several good looks-opportunities this evening couldn't find the back of the net, was a threat at times through out the game. A big kid who really uses his upper body to get through the opponents defenders. Hard to defend against and contain.
Braiden Epp (2 goals) Was very good with and without the puck, all over the ice, quick on his feet, moves the puck well.
Stephen Kleysen (1 assist) Was another Warriors d-man I thought played well.
Scott Allen recently released from the WHL Calgary Hitmen returned to the Warriors, had a strong game on the point. A big body that has a good hard shot, is physical, can wear you down, hard to play against. Plays with an edge, has that mean streak in him.
Xavier Burghardt (33 saves) Played well through out the game. I don't think was tested as much as Cole Demers, was still forced into making some big-key saves. Quick on his feet, likes to play the puck, get involved in the play at times.
Game Thought's: (West Kelowna)
The Warriors finish a five game home stand with back to back losses, picked up just one win in those five home games. This was a very good-entertaining game. Both teams played hard. The Warriors with a strong powerplay, only managed one goal on three 1st period powerplays. WK with several good quality chances on the man advantage ran into a hot goaltender that kept the game scoreless at the time. The Warriors bang in one or two more powerplay goals in that 1st period and this may be a different game-outcome. West Kelowna had their chances in the 1st and 2nd periods were really limited in the 3rd. I don't think this game as as spirited as the last time these two teams met. West Kelowna's defence was very good through out the night, really limited the Vipers opportunities in the 3rd. The Warriors couldn't seem to catch a break or get that lucky bounce they needed. West Kelowna really needed a goal in the middle frame when they took it too Vernon. A hard fought game by West Kelowna.
Ryan Brushett (Injured)
Nicholas Rasovic (Injured)
Energy Player of the Game:
Jake Harrison (1 assist)
1st Star: Austin Adamson (2 goals)
2nd Star: Braiden Epp (2 goals)
3rd Star: Cole Demers (39 saves)
BCHL Boxscore-Game summary,
Trevor Miller's West Kelowna Warriors Blog,
Vernon Vipers Game recap,
Trevor Miller's West Kelowna Warriors Blog,
Vernon Vipers Game recap,