I was at tonight's Vipers-Smoke Eaters game as Vernon defeated Trail 6-2 in front of 1,878 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Darion Hanson
Trail: Zach Dyment
1st Period: The Vipers come out hitting, laying the body early and often. Hunter Zandee was a man on a mission laid out several checks was physical most of the night. Vernon would get the games first powerplay just over two minutes into the game. Moving the puck around Cooper Watson was able to move into the slot ripped a hard shot found the back of the net, giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 3:39 Christian Cakebread & Michael Ufberg picked up the assists. The Smoke Eaters were upset about the goal, as both referee and linesmen gathered in front of the penalty box for a fairly lengthy discussion. The goal stood as several Trail players still wanted to talk to the referee after the goal & call. The Smokies seemed to shake the goal off and come back with a good push back. With pressure in the offensive zone, Kale Howarth on a wrap around attempt looked to be stopped by Darion Hanson who struggled to not move as the Viper goaltender was pushed back into the blue paint, hugging the goal line. With traffic in front and the referee behind the goal, stopped the play. Just as the whistle sounded, a second later the goal light come on and the Smoke Eaters were celebrating. Trail tied the game 1-1 at 6:16 Howarth was credited with the goal, with Josh Laframboise collecting the lone assist. The Vipers responded with a strong push back of their own, with a strong attack Vernon was firing everything towards the net but Trail's defence come up with several big shot blocks, as the Vipers were having troubles getting pucks through to the net. The Vipers didn't take their foot off the gas, had good zone time for several minutes, couldn't seem to get a shot on goal even thought taking it too the Smoke Eaters. Just before the halfway mark Trail would get their first look with the man advantage but the Vipers penalty kill was solid, did a great job at shutting down the Smokies powerplay unit. Trail with just one shot couldn't capitalize with the man advantage. Austin Adamson collided with a Trail player as the two hit the ice. Adamson was slow getting up, looked to be hurt on the play, was bent over looked to be covering his face with his hands went straight to the Vipers dressing room and didn't return. Hunter Zandee would fill his spot and double shift for the remainder of the night. In the second half Luke Gingras with a great opportunity from the slot forced former Vipers goaltender Zach Dyment into just getting a piece of Gingras's shot to stop it from going in short side. The Vipers really stepped up their game as the period went on dominated most of the opening period. Trail went atleast five or six minutes without a shot. Late in the period Luke Gingras setup Riley Brandt who beat Zach Dyment giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 18:01 Gingras and Hunter Zandee with the helpers. Just over a minute later Connor Clouston's point shot had eyes, looked to go post and in giving Vernon a 3-1 lead at 19:16 Niko Karamanis and Cooper Watson collected the assists. Tempers heated up in the final minute as several players got involved in some pushing and shoving after the whistle. Smokies captain Connor Brown-Maloski was on his way to the box before giving the referee an earful. Brown-Maloski was given a ten minute misconduct and sent to the dressing room, swinging his stick at the lights as he made his way down the tunnel. The Vipers would jump on a late powerplay with just ten second remaining, had two good looks before the final buzzer couldn't beat Zach Dyment. Tempers heated up once again at the buzzer as more pushing and shoving occurred. Chris Jandric took a penalty at the end of the period as both teams were fired up and showing lots of emotion. Vernon was up 3-1 after 20 minutes of play. The Vipers come out hitting, were throwing their weight around early before jumping out to an early 1-0 lead. Trail ties the game shortly after on a goal that shouldn't count. I was surprised you didn't see the Viper bench upset about this goal-call. The referee clearly blew his whistle to stop the play, then the goal light comes on a second later and the goal stands. How does that count? The Vipers carried most of the play, dominated the 1st period outplaying Trail. Vernon really using their speed and skill, were too much for the Smokies. Trail fell behind early, managed to tie the game shortly after couldn't recover and were outplayed most of the period. The Smokies struggled offensively played well defensively at times, blocked a lot of Vernon shots. Giving up two back to back goals in the final two minutes hurts. Vernon outshot Trail 12-5.
2nd Period: Both teams started the middle frame four on four with the Smokies getting a very shortended powerplay wich the Vipers were able to kill off. Inside the opening minute Jagger Williamson on a redirect in front just missed the far corner. The Vipers with a few good looks in the opening minute. Just as the penalty expired Niko Karamanis tried setting up Steven Jandric on a two on one, but Jandric couldn't connect on the pass in front on a missed opportunity. Shortly after Riley Brandt down the right wing beat Smoke Eaters starting goaltender Zach Dyment but rang his shot off the post before Jagger Williamson buried the rebound, giving Vernon a 4-1 lead at 3:09 Brandt & Hunter Zandee with the helpers. Shortly after Jonas Gordon on a three on two attack for Trail wired a quick shot from the high slot beat Vipers starting goaltender Darion Hanson but couldn't beat the post as the Smoke Eaters come close to getting back with in two goals. Shortly after Vernon would jump on the powerplay and capitalize. Cooper Watson once again snuck into the play scored his second of the evening giving Vernon a 5-1 lead at 7:45 Steven Jandric and Brett Stapley picked up the assists. The Vipers then looked to take their foot off the gas up by four goals. Just past the midway mark Kale Howarth broke free for the breakaway was slashed on the play, still managed to get the shot off, couldn't beat Darion Hanson. Trail would jump on the powerplay but struggle. The Vipers with a good kill would kill off the minor. The play really slowed down in the second half, as the Vipers weren't skating as hard with the four goal lead. The Smokies were now able to come on late and create/generate a few chances. The Smoke Eaters had more zone time but didn't get a lot of grade a opportunities. Vernon was up 5-1 after 40 minutes of play. The Vipers basically put this game away early, with two goals in the first half, were able to sit back, took their foot off the gas for the remainder of the period. The Smokies had a few good opportunities but didn't generate much were down four goals heading into the final frame. Trail outshot Vernon 13-12.
3rd Period: Inside the opening shift Spencer McLean with a great chance in front couldn't beat Darion Hanson before stopping Kale Howarth shortly after as the Smokies with a few good looks-opportunities early. Jimmy Lambert with a great chance early couldn't beat Zach Dyment. Both teams went back at times. The Smokies had a lot more zone time, carried an edge in play at times. Vernon sitting back up by four goals. Steven Jandric on a wrap around couldn't beat Zach Dyment. Just past the halfway mark Jagger Williamson setup Riley Brandt with a nice goal, giving Vernon a 6-1 lead at 10:46 Williamson and Shane Kelly with the assists. On the following play, Connor Clouston and Ethan Martini got into a bit of a scrum, as both players were in each others faces, It looked like the two were going to drop the gloves before the linesmen broke the two up. Martini went to the penalty box, giving Vernon a shot with the man advantage. Brandt looked to give Vernon a 7-1 lead rang his shot off the post as Trail killed off the minor. On the following shift Tyson Slater and Ryan Moon with some nice two way passing setup Moon in front cutting the Vernon lead to 6-2 at 13:31 Slater with the lone helper. On the following shift Kale Howarth in for the breakaway was slashed on the play, couldnt beat Darion Hanson. This sending Trail to the powerplay. The Smokies with a few good looks, couldnt capitalize with the man advantage. In the second half the Smokies had several good chances down low, either just missed the net or couldn't solve Darion Hanson who was sharp for the remainder of the night. Vernon would come away with the 6-2 victory. Both teams had some good chances but I think the Smokies had the better of the opportunities. Up four goals heading into the 3rd the Vipers took their foot off the gas. Trail didn't quit, battled till the end. Vernon outshot Trail 14-10.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Michael Ufberg (1 assist) Played very well on the backend. Really carried-moved the puck well out of his own end, a very smooth skater, can really handle the puck, Really sees-reads the ice well. Has really played well the past handful of games.
Cooper Watson (2 goals & 1 assist) Had a strong game in Salmon Arm last night, come right back and played a heck of a game tonight. Scoring twice and adding an assist, looked very good at both ends of the rink.
Riley Brandt (2 goals & 1 assist) Is another kid who has really played well this past week. Had a strong game tonight, really played hard, hit two posts, was going hard to the net, battled and competed through out the game.
Hunter Zandee (2 assists) Really stepped up his play and played physical. Was laying the body early and often in the 1st played hard, showed a lot of jump-energy, was really flying tonight. Zandee got off to a great start to the season, was one of if not one of the more consistent Vipers but has really cooled off the past two months. Nice to see him get his game going tonight.
Connor Clouston (1 goal) I thought played well on the blueline. Was engaged in the play, also didn't back down from the rough stuff after the whistle. Stepped in for a team mate when needed but also stayed cool not to take any undisciplined penalties.
Darion Hanson (26 saves) Wasn't tested much if at all in the opening frame, made some big stops in the 2nd and 3rd even with the game out of reach, still played hard, making two big stops on the breakaway. Its pretty hard for a goaltender to stay focused in a game when your up bu four or five goals but Hanson seemed to stay on top of his game, battled hard, making the saves when called apon.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
Heading into tonight's game both teams were tied in points for 2nd place. The Vipers now move two points up on Trail for 2nd place with a pretty convincing win. Tonight was statement game, Vernon needed to show Trail they weren't going to come in here and take away two points, as well as 2nd place in their rink. The start was key. I think the Vipers set the tone early, by laying the body, being physical, wearing down the Smoke Eaters who also played last night but had the long snowy bus ride, jumped on Trail early. Getting the games first goal was key but also scoring those two late back to back goals to give you a 3-1 lead heading into the 2nd was huge. The Vipers were by far the better of the two teams after one period but you don't score those two goals late, its still tied 1-1 and the Smokies are still in this game. This gives you a two goal lead but also puts Trail back on their heels, always having to defend the puck. Then the two big goals in the first half of the middle frame, broke the game wide open and basically put this game away. Up 5-1 midway through the 2nd the Vipers were able to take their foot off the gas. I really liked Vernon's game tonight, after a hard fought 4-4 tie in Salmon Arm last night, in a game they should have won, the team didn't sulk over the tie. Instead they come ready and prepared to the rink tonight, set the tone early and played a very solid game on home ice. The Vipers were really skating hard, moving the puck well, firing everything to the net and burying their chances. I think once they took their foot off the gas, yes Trail was able to get a lot more zone time, get more chances-opportunities but Darion Hanson was there to bail them out. I really like the looks and make of this years Vipers. Ive said it from day one but the recent trades-roster moves they made a few weeks back have really improved this team. You can now start to see improvement and the team gel. With the win the Vipers have won four of their last six and have atleast a point in five of their last six. The Vipers have now won four straight at home and five of their last six home games. The Vipers lead the season series 2-1 will play in Trail December 17th.
Top Player's: (Trail)
Kale Howarth (1 goal) Was one of the more offensive minded Smokies tonight. Stopped on two breakaways, had his fare share of chances, played well in a losing cause.
Ryan Moon (1 goal) Was another kid that played well in the loss. A good-quick skater, can really get going, was hard to defend against, played hard through out the game.
Game Thought's: (Trail)
The Smokies got off to a slow start, couldn't seem to get their game going fell behind early had troubles matching Vernon's speed and skill through out the 1st period. Trail played most of the opening frame in their own end, played well defensively even though giving up three 1st period goals. The Smokies defence come up with some huge shot blocks, limitied the Vipers time and space at times, but could only hold off Vernon's attack for so long. Trail had troubles getting control of the puck-getting through the neutral zone. The Smoke Eaters finally were able to create/generate some chances in the 2nd and 3rd periods when Vernon took their foot off the gas. In a game where 2nd place was on the line, you thought it was going to be a much closer game then 6-2. Giving up the two quick back to back goals late in the 1st period, hurt. Trail couldn't recover and it cost them. The Smokies played a very feisty game, played with an edge through out the game. Since the 2002-03 regular season Trail has just seven wins in Vernon. Trail has just one win in their last seven games away from home. I saw-noticed a New York Rangers scout at tonight's game.
Energy Player of the Game:
Hunter Zandee (2 assists)
1st Star: Cooper Watson (2 goals & 1 assist)
2nd Star: Riley Brandt (2 goals & 1 assist)
3rd Star: Jagger Williamson (1 goal & 1 assist)
BCHL Boxscore-Game Summary,
BCHL Game Report,
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