I was at tonight's Vipers-Smoke Eaters game as Vernon defeated Trail 5-1 in front of 1,663 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Darion Hanson
Trail: Zach Dyment
1st Period: The Vipers jumped on Trail early with some good pressure in the offensive zone. A minute and a half into the opening period Jagger Williamson with a nice move inside the blueline was denied by Zach Dyment on an odd man rush. About a minute later Ryan Brushett with a good chance in front before Austin Adamson stopped in tight. Vernon really using their speed, were skating hard early, playing with a ton of jump-energy had the early edge. Shortly after Mitchell Barker on an odd man rush would get stopped by Darion Hanson who just got a piece of the puck with his glove before having to make a pad save off Barker on the rebound as Barker with two good opportunities. The Snakes were outshooting the Smokies 6-2 early before Trail responded with a strong push back. The Smoke Eaters using their size difference, hemmed the Snakes in their own end for a few minutes, had good pressure but didn't really generate much for offence. Shortly after the Vipers would get the games first powerplay. Karsten Jang made a huge defensive play to deflect Auston Adamson's shot up into the netting behind the end glass. The Vipers moving the puck around quickly, looked good early on before Steven Jandric setup Jimmy Lambert in the slot, on a weak looking shot that beat Zach Dyment giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 9:24 Jandric and Chris Jandric with the assists. Trail responded with a good push back after the goal. Darion Hanson looked to make a stellar glove save, looked to lose the puck as it hoped out of his glove. Hanson was down and out, forced to make another save while on his back after the Smokies couldn't jam home the puck on a goal mouth scramble. On the following play, Jimmy Lambert was stopped on a parcial breakaway, letting go a slap shot from well out, couldn't beat Zach Dyment. The Snakes would go back to the powerplay in the second half, move the puck around, had a few good looks-chances couldn't capitalize with the man advantage. The Vipers looked to grab a 2-0 lead with about four and a half minutes remaining after Ryan Brushett's quick shot from the high slot beat Zach Dyment looked to go off the crossbar and out. Referee Kevin Crowell signaled a goal. While the Vipers were celebrating and going to the bench the other referee and two linesmen went over to Crowell while the group talked about the goal-play in front of the penalty boxes. Trail in the mean time was arguing the call right away, looked upset with the call on the ice. After a short discussion the two referee's called off the goal. About a minute later Jimmy Lambert was sprung for the breakaway, couldn't solve Zach Dyment who sprawled out making a huge pad save, keeping this a one goal game. Vernon would get a powerplay on the play, their third of the period. The Snakes unable to capitalize as the Smokies killed off the minor. It was 1-0 Vernon after 20 minutes of play. I really liked the Vipers start. I thought Vernon jumped on Trail early, had some good pressure, carried the better of the play for most of the period. The Vipers using their speed and skill, had some good opportunities. The Snakes playing with a ton of jump/energy, looked very good in the opening period. The Vipers with a much improved powerplay compared to the previous few home games. Trail on the other hand, didn't get much sustained pressure or zone time, saw a lot of the 1st period in their own end. The Smokies had a few good looks-chances, were forced into killing off two out of three penalties. Even though outplayed, it was only a one goal game and the Smokies still in the hockey game. The Vipers were the better team. Vernon outshot Trail 18-9.
2nd Period: Inside the opening minutes and a half, Ryan Brushett alone in the slot, fired a back hand high and over the goal on a missed opportunity. The play was fairly even early with not a lot of quality chances at either ends of the rink. Carter Cochrane took a big hit was slow getting up, looked to have injured his shoulder-arm, went straight to the Trail bench, collapsed on the bench, before a trainer checked him out before going to the dressing room. Cochrane was ok and eventually returned to the bench-game later on. About seven minutes in, Braeden Tuck on an odd man rush, couldn't beat Vipers starting goaltender Darion Hanson before crashing into the net. Shortly after Vernon would jump on the powerplay. But it was the Smoke Eaters penalty kill that looked very strong. With a strong forecheck, created/generated a few chances in and around the net, forcing Darion Hanson into making a few stops. The Vipers unable to take advantage as Trail would kill off the minor. Shortly after the Smokies would get a shortended two man advantage. The Snakes with a strong penalty kill, were very good killed off both minors. About a minute later the Smoke Eaters went back to the powerplay, as the Vipers getting into penalty trouble in the second half. Just before the penalty expired, A shot from the point, hit a body in front bounced out front to Kale Howarth who's shot beat Darion Hanson but went off the post as Trail was within inches of tying the game. About a minute later Jimmy Lambert spotted Steven Jandric down low who gave Vernon a 2-0 lead at 18:45 on a hard working shift by the Vipers. Lambert with the lone helper. It was 2-0 Vernon after 40 minutes of play. I thought the Smokies responded with a better period, held their own against the Vipers. Trail was better at limiting Vernon's speed and skill, didn't give up as many offensive chances. Giving up the second goal late in the period was costly for the Smoke Eaters. I thought both teams penalty kill's were very good. The Snakes didn't seem to have the same jump they had in the 1st, scored a huge goal with just over a minute remaining to grab a 2-0 lead heading into the 3rd. Trail outshot Vernon 12-10.
3rd Period: Vernon jumped on an early powerplay, just fifty three seconds into the frame. Moving the puck around, Cooper Watson setup Steven Jandric who gave Vernon a 3-0 lead at 2:35 Watson & Michael Ufberg picked up the assists. Just over two minutes later the Vipers went back to the powerplay but unable to capitalize with the man advantage. The Smoke Eaters were able to kill off the minor. Vernon put their foot on the gas and never looked back as the Snakes were all over the Smokies early and often. The Vipers carried the play, had all kinds of zone time, created/generated several opportunities in and around the net. Trail playing most of the first half in their own end, would get a two on one opportunity but couldn't connect on the pass going to the front of the net. The Smokies would get into penalty trouble in the second half after someone from the Smoke Eaters bench told one of the referee's where to go. Mitchell Barker was tossed from the game while one of the Trail coaches were also tossed from the game. Ethan Martini was really giving the referee an earful from the bench. With the Vipers on another powerplay, Cooper Watson setup Jimmy Lambert in front who put Vernon up 4-0 at 12:12 and in full control of the hockey game. Watson & Michael Ufberg collected the assists. More yelling from the Trail bench towards the officials as the Smoke Eaters were losing their focus. On the following play Austin Adamson with a great individual effort down low, beat former Vipers goaltender Zach Dyment giving Vernon a 5-0 lead at 13:00 Cameron Trott with the helper. On the following shift a minor scrum inside the Vernon blueline, as tempers heated up. Ryan Moon was swinging-throwing punches at any red jersey he could connect with. The Smoke Eaters come out with the powerplay. The Smokies with a ton of shots-good looks, forced Darion Hanson into making some saves. The Smoke Eaters with good pressure, had some looks, couldn't find the back of the net, but just as the penalty expired, Connor Brown-Maloski broke Darion Hanson's shutout bid, cutting the Vernon lead to 5-1 at 15:36 Ethan Martini with the lone assist. Ryan Brushett & Austin Adamson come right back the other way, both were denied down low after Zach Dyment made two big stops. Late in the frame Trail went back to the powerplay. The Smoke Eaters were firing everything towards the goal, couldn't get within three as Vernon killed off the minor. The Vipers would hang on for the 5-1 victory. Trail got into penalty trouble early and through out the period as emotions took over the better of the team. The Vipers with two powerplay goals, put this game away were the better of the two teams. I thought the Snakes dominated the play for most of the 3rd up until the final six or seven minutes. Vernon didn't sit back, took it to the Smokies scoring three in the 3rd. The Smoke Eaters got into penalty trouble, taking way too many penalties. Trail played most of the period in their own end, looked to be out of gas, didn't have much energy-fight left in them come the final frame. Vernon outshot Trail 21-14.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
The Vipers #1 unti of Jimmy Lambert (2 goals & 1 assist), Brett Stapley & Steven Jandric (2 goals & 1 assist) Looked-played very well in the victory. I really liked Jandric's game, was going to the net often, played-battled hard, really used his speed and grit to drive to the net, was also engaged in the play, was getting involved in the after the whistle activities. I thought this line was hard on the puck, dangerous through out the night, was hard to contain and defend against.
Ryan Brushett & Austin Adamson (1 goal) have really stepped up their game the past month or so and playing their best hockey of the season. Brushett was really using his speed and skill, to create/generate chances. Adamson battled-played hard, was going to the net, looking for those loose pucks-second opportunities in close. These two played very well together. Seemed to have found some chemistry playing on the same line.
Chris Jandric (1 assist) I thought played very well on the blueline. Made a few smart heads up plays, was very solid at both ends of the rink. Was moving the puck well, played with a lot of confidence.
Darion Hanson (30 saves) Wasn't tested much but come up with a few big saves when called apon. I thought made some key saves at certain times in the game, made some good stops when it was still a one goal game. This kid seems so focused, calm & confident.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
After a very disappointing effort-loss Wednesday vs the West Kelowna Warriors, the Vipers responded with a much better effort-performance this evening. I thought the Snakes played very close to sixty minutes, played with a ton of jump-energy, really used their speed and skill, didn't sit back, kept coming at times, didn't take their foot off the gas. Two big goals really changed the momentum and outcome of tonight's game. The Vipers 2nd goal inside the final two minutes of the 2nd period and Vernon's 3rd goal on the powerplay, 2:35 into the 3rd. The Vipers head into the 3rd with a 2-0 lead instead of a one goal game and then get some insurance early in the final period grabbing a three goal lead. I really liked the Viper powerplay, I thought looked much improved-better compared to Wednesday's PP vs West Kelowna. Moving the puck quick, were creating/generating more on the man advantage. Vernon finished the night going 3-8 with the PP. I also liked the Snakes penalty kill. The Vipers got into some penalty trouble in the second half of the 2nd period, had a strong PK to finish the period. At this point in the game, it was only 1-0, the Smokies score on a powerplay and it's now tied. Killing off the two man advantage-three others was huge. Vernon then puts the game away in the 3rd with three goals. This was a different team tonight, played with a lot more intensity, were ready to play tonight, played very well. A pretty small crowd on hand for tonight's game. Just before puck drop it looked like maybe 1000 people in the rink, but as the period went on, fans slowly trickled in.
Top Player's: (Trail)
Andre Ghantous I thought was one of the more consistent Smoke Eaters in the loss. Not the biggest kid, but played well. Carried the puck often, created/generated some offence at times, was involved in the play.
Kale Howarth Was another forward who I thought played well through out the game. A bigger body, was involved in the play, was going to the net.
Game Thought's: (Trail)
I thought the Smoke Eaters were outplayed-outchanced most of the night. After a 8-3 victory over the visiting Coquitlam Express last night, Trail had the lengthy bus ride in winter conditions today looked like a team that played last night, where as the Vipers had the night off. Other then the 2nd period where I thought Trail responded with a better effort-performance at times, I thought the Vipers outplayed the Smokies in the 1st and 3rd periods. Give the Smoke Eaters credit, even though being outplayed that opening period, the Smokies were only down a goal heading into the 2nd period. Trail needed to capitalize with the man advantage in the middle frame, couldn't tie the game before giving up the late goal towards the end of the 2nd putting them down 2-0 heading into the 3rd. If Trail gets on the board, this maybe changes the momentum and outlook on tonight's game. Instead there down two goals heading into the 3rd on the road, in a tough rink to play in. This was a costly goal and a timely goal to give up. Giving up the 3rd goal on the powerplay, early to start the 3rd was the backbreaker and basically put this game away. Trail fell apart in the 3rd losing their cool-emotions, taking some undisciplined penalties, gave up two third period powerplay goals. The Smoke Eaters took way too many penalties, gave up way too many shots and chances, played a lot of the night in their own end. Trail didn't see a lot of offensive zone time, until late in the 3rd when on two late powerplays. The Smoke Eaters with very limited opportunities, didn't generate/create enough chances. I didnt think the Smoke Eaters had the same jump-energy as Vernon, couldn't match their speed and skill level. The Smokies fall to 1-4 vs the Vipers this season saw their four game winning streak snapped.
Riley Brandt (Injured)
Hunter Zandee (Injured)
Energy Player of the Game:
1st Star: Steven Jandric (2 goals & 1 assist)
2nd Star: Jimmy Lambert (2 goals & 1 assist)
3rd Star: Chris Jandric (1 assist)