I was at tonight's Vipers-Warriors game as Vernon defeated West Kelowna 3-1 in front of 1,582 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Darion Hanson
West Kelowna: Cole Demers
1st Period: The Warriors got off to a quick start, jumped on the Vipers early. West Kelowna needed two and a half minutes to record their first shot of the night, but were strong on the puck, hard on the forecheck, had some good pressure in the opening minutes. The defending National Champions were outshooting Vernon 5-2 at one point before the Snakes got their game going. Jesse Lansdell six and a half minutes into the frame went in and around two defenders before getting in alone close put a nice move in tight on former Vernon Vipers goaltender Cole Demers who made a huge pad save keeping this out. Just before the halfway mark Darion Hanson made his biggest stop of the period, was out to challenge made a big save off a hard low shot from the high slot (I didn't see who took the shot). On the following play Steven Jandric setup Brett Stapley down low who beat Cole Demers high giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 10:44 Jandric with the lone helper. Just minutes later the Vipers would get the games first powerplay. Cole Demers with two big saves as West Kelowna killed off the minor. As the period continued the Snakes got better, had lots of sustained pressure for most of the remainder of the 1st. Simon Sagissor with a slick move in close, was denied by Cole Demers with two minutes remaining, before a quick shot missed the Vernon net, Braiden Epp couldn't pounce on the rebound off the end boards, as the puck hoped over his stick, had a wide open cage as the Warriors with a great opportunity on the following shift. It was 1-0 Vernon after 20 minutes of play. The Warriors with a strong start, jumped on the Snakes early, had some good pressure, looked good in the opening five minutes, before the Vipers got their game going and took over the edge in play. Vernon got better as the period went along and carried the better of the play for most of the period. The Vipers getting pucks to the net, generated some quality chances, only managed one goal. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 15-5.
2nd Period: The Warriors jumped on the Snakes off the opening faceoff. West Kelowna with a strong start, were in on the attack early and often. The Tribe with a ton of pressure were firing pucks to the net, forcing Vipers starting goaltender Darion Hanson into making several saves in the opening minutes. Hanson was big early, made a huge save off Parm Dhaliwal & former Vernon Vipers forward Chase Stevenson just over a minute into the middle frame. The Tribe had Vernon back on their heels, as the Vipers were hemmed inside their own end for several minutes. Cavin Tilsley took a big hit along the side wall, was very slow-dazed getting up, made his way to the Warriors dressing room, did return to the bench later. The Snakes were finally able to clear the zone-get out of their own end, wich resulted in Ryan Brushett with a nice rush up ice, created/generated a scoring chance in close, forced Warriors starting goaltender Cole Demers to come way out of his crease to rob Brushett keeping this a one goal game. The Warriors were outshooting Vernon 7-2 just three minutes into the middle frame. WK would get their first look with the powerplay about seven minutes in, but it would be Jimmy Lambert who would get sprung on the parcial breakaway on a Viper two on one rush. Lambert using his wheels, ripped a hard shot from well out was stopped by Cole Demers. Connor Sodergren would get stoned by Darion Hanson at the side of the net as the Warriors couldn't convert with the man advantage. A few minutes later Steven Jandric would get denied down low after Cole Demers made a big stop in close, before Vernon would come out of the play with the powerplay. Jimmy Lambert took a big check from behind-hit to the head along the end wall, went down in a hurry and was down for several minutes. Lambert was slow getting up, made his way to the Vipers dressing room, didn't return. No penalty on the play. The Vipers struggled as West Kelowna killed off the penalty. With about six minutes remaining Jonas Gordon made a big defensive play, to break up a Viper rush. The Tribe would get back to back powerplays late in the 2nd to finish the period. Getting several good looks the Vipers got some big stops from Darion Hanson who bailed out the penalty kill. Seconds into the second PP Parm Dhaliwal setup a wide open Chase Dubois at the side of the net, hit the wide open cage tying the game 1-1 at 18:21 Dhaliwal with the assist. Just less then a minute later Ryan Brushett may have caught Cole Demers off guard, ripped a lazer of a shot that beat Demers far side high giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 19:19 Steven Jandric and Connor Clouston picked up the helpers. Brushetts shot may have gone off a stick on it's way to the goal, as the puck changed direction in a hurry. Vernon was up 2-1 after 40 minutes of play. It was all Warriors as West Kelowna dominated the play. The Tribe come out strong, never taking their foot off the gas, pouring on the pressure. WK with all kinds of zone time, had Vernon hemmed in their own end most of the period. The Vipers struggled defensively-in their own end, clearing the zone-getting the puck through the neutral zone. West Kelowna with a ton of quality chances, only managed one goal as Darion Hanson played very well, keeping his team in the game. The Snakes with very limited zone time, created/generated a few good looks-chances were very lucky to be up a goal heading into the 3rd. Ryan Brushett with a huge goal inside the final minute. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 23-8.
3rd Period: Inside the opening minutes Brett Stapley somehow missed a wide open cage on a missed opportunity. Just two minutes into the final frame the Snakes would get an early powerplay. Vernon firing everything towards Cole Demers and the Warriors goal, were missing the net often. The Vipers with loads of early pressure had some great looks in close, couldn't capitalize with the man advantage. Chase Stevenson would try breaking free for the shorthanded breakaway, was hooked on the play, managed to get a shot off but was stopped by Darion Hanson. Stevenson was rewarded with a penalty shot on the play but couldn't beat Hanson who was beat fivehole as the puck come out the other end missing the goal on a close call. Just as the penalty expired West Kelowna would get a shot with the powerplay. The Snakes with a very strong penalty kill, would limit the Warriors opportunities, killed off the minor. The Vipers would jump on the powerplay shortly after as the teams exchanged powerplays early in the first half. The Vipers couldn't capitalize with the man advantage. Just as the penalty expired, shortly after Shane Kelly's point shot was redirected on it's way to the goal by Austin Adamson, giving Vernon a 3-1 lead at 11:36 Kelly & Michael Ufberg with the assists. This was a huge goal, giving the Vipers a two goal lead. Both teams battled-played hard, going back and fourth with good looks-chances at both ends of the rink. WK slowly started coming on late in the period, getting a slight edge in play. Tempers heated up after two minor scrums after the whistle. With just over three minutes left, Jake Harrison & Jagger Williamson were tossed from the game, both players picking up ten minute misconducts. The Warriors would get a late powerplay with 2:40 remaining, would get Cole Demers to the bench for the extra attacker. But the Vernon penalty kill was very sharp, limiting the Warriors PP as the Vipers were able to kill off the minor, giving up very limited chances. With the goaltender still on the bench and the Tribe pressing, Cameron Trott took a big run-hit in the dying seconds before Braiden Epp come charging in, dropping his gloves going after Trott. A huge scrum occurred just to the right of the Viper bench as tempters heated up with 0.7 seconds left in the game. Lots of pushing and shoving, some punches thrown as both benches were up. After a very lengthy delay Cameron Trott & Chase Dubois were tossed-given ten minute misconducts while Braiden Epp was also tossed and given five minutes for fighting and two minutes for instigating. The Vipers would come away with the 3-1 victory. Both teams exchanged several powerplays, in a hard fought, very evenly matched 3rd with chances at both ends of the rink. I thought the Warriors come on late but didn't generate much in the final few minutes before tempers boiled over in the final minutes. Austin Adamson with a huge goal midway through the period put Vernon up by two, giving the Snakes a bit of a coushin. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 13-11.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Austin Adamson (1 goal) I thought was one of the Vipers better-more consistent forwards tonight. Adamson has really come on the past few months, being one of the more consistent players down the stretch. Scored a huge goal just past the midway mark, giving Vernon a two goal lead. I thought played with a lot of energy, was going to the net often, battled-competed hard in and around the goal, was rewarded with his goal.
Riley Brandt didn't play as physical after last night's 3-1 loss to the Wenatchee Wild, still laid out a few checks tonight, played with some energy-jump.
Simon Sagissor I thought played very well in the 1st period, was skating hard, moving the puck, even had a few good looks at the net. But I didn't notice him at all in the 2nd period, before getting a few shifts in the 3rd.
Darion Hanson (38 saves) For a second straight night Hanson was solid between the pipes, gave his team a chance to win, made some big stops through out the night. Covers a lot of the net, looks calm in goal, plays with a lot of confidence, was very good on the PK.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
After getting off to a bit of a slow start, I thought the Vipers got their game going and played very well in the 1st. The Vipers really moving the puck, were skating hard, playing with a lot of jump-energy, had some quality chances, were getting pucks to the net, looked very good in the opening twenty minutes. The 2nd period was a different story as Vernon come out flat, were back on their heels, hemmed in their own end most of the second period, were having all kinds of troubles with the Warriors. Vernon's defence was fighting the puck, had troubles clearing the zone, getting through the neutral zone, played a lot of that middle frame in their own end. Getting just a few opportunities, saw very limited time in the offensive zone, got a huge 2nd goal from Ryan Brushett inside the final minute, taking a 2-1 lead into the 3rd. The Snakes responded with a much better effort-performance in the final frame, played-battled hard, were firing everything on goal, but missing the net often. The Vipers having all kinds of troubles hitting the goal on the powerplay. Austin Adamson with a big goal midway through the 3rd gave the Snakes a bit of a coushin, allowed them to settle down and play a little more defensive hockey down the stretch. The Vipers with some timely goals (2nd and 3rd goals) scored at key times in the game. A very heated game with lots of emotion boiling over in the 3rd, several scrums as both teams showed they don't like each other. The Snakes didn't back down from the after the whistle activities, played a hard fought 3rd. With the win the Vipers clinch 2nd place in the Division, earning a bye in the opening round of the playoffs. The Vipers win the season series over the Warriors going 4-1-2-0. Will this be the final game Viper fans see the West Kelowna Warriors? Unless these two teams meet come playoffs, reports are the Warriors owner is planning on moving the team to North Delta for next season or folding if a deal dosnt happen. One of the Vipers main rivals ever since the Warriors moved to West Kelowna from Langley in 2006, will be very sad to see them leave. Former Vernon Vipers captain Lennie Rampone was at tonight's game.
Top Player's: (West Kelowna)
Jake Harrison I thought played with a lot of emotion, energy and jump was very solid on the blueline. Was involved in several altercations with the Vipers through out the night. Was getting under the skin of several Vernon players, battled-competed hard.
Connor Sodergren I thought was one of the more consistent Warriors forwards in the loss. Played strong, was always going to the net, had some looks, was robbed at the side of the net after being denied by Darion Hanson on the powerplay.
Chase Stevenson who attended the Vipers training camp-played in some exhibition games with the Vipers, played well. Had some jump in his game, was skating hard, going to the net, looking for opportunities. Was stopped on a 3rd period penalty shot.
Cavin Tilsley battled-competed all night, was mucking it up, was hard on the puck, won several battles along the wall. Showed a strong work ethic.
Michael Ryan Played very well on the backend. Was very steady.
Cole Demers (33 saves) The former Viper goaltender was solid between the pipes, as both goaltenders played very well. Demers come up with some big stops through out the game, giving his team a chance to win, made some big saves in that opening frame, limiting Vernon to just one goal.
Game Thought's: (West Kelowna)
You wouldn't guess the Warriors had Friday night off, got off to a good start, had some good pressure early, looked good in the first four-five minutes before fading away. I thought WK had troubles with the Vipers speed-skill in the 1st, were just holding on at times, relying on Cole Demers to bail them out. West Kelowna re-grouped and come ready to play for the 2nd. It was all Warriors in the middle frame as the Tribe, dominated the twenty minutes, but only managed one goal. West Kelowna with a ton of pressure-opportunities, couldn't bury their chances-solve Darion Hanson. Give the Warriors full credit, playing with a full bench, they turned things around between periods, played much better in the 2nd and 3rd couldn't get the offence going. Quin Foreman was no where to be seen, plays very well against the Snakes, were missing his offensive skill. The Tribe had their chances, only mustered the lone goal on the powerplay. Giving up the late goal inside the final minute of the 2nd period was a killer. Tying the game on the powerplay about a minute before, you cant give up that late goal, to put your team down a goal heading into the 3rd. Obviously giving up the 3rd goal in the final frame was the nail in the coffin but West Kelowna didn't go down without a fight as the Warriors battled hard, didn't catch a break late in the game. The Warriors have lost eight of their last twelve games, finish the regular season playing four of their last six games away from home. I was very surprised to see just a select few Warriors fans in attendance.
Hunter Zandee (Injured)
Energy Player of the Game:
1st Star: Michael Ufberg (1 assist)
2nd Star: Darion Hanson (38 saves)
3rd Star: Chase Dubois
Trevor Miller's West Kelowna Warriors Blog,