I was at tonight's Vipers-Grizzlies game as Victoria defeated Vernon 4-2 in front of 1,742 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Ty Taylor
Victoria: Matthew Galajda
1st Period: Just twenty four seconds into the opening frame, Jamie Rome going hard to the net couldn't beat Ty Taylor at the top of the crease on a quality chance inside the opening minute for the Grizzlies. Back come the Vipers about a minute and a half later, Ryan Brushett with a good chance in close, couldn't beat Matthew Galajda. The Grizzlies would open the scoring after a wicked shot from well out. T.J. Friedmann lazer of a shot went top corner crossbar and in beating Ty Taylor giving Victoria a 1-0 lead at 3:30 Keyvan Mokhtari picked up the assist. A minute later Cody Van Lierop's shot from the point beat Ty Taylor with a Grizzly forward in the blue paint, gave Victoria a 2-0 lead at 4:31 Dane Finnson & Cam Thompson drew the assists. The Vipers went straight to the officials saying a Victoria forward was deep in the crease. After a short gathering by the officials, the goal stood as the Grizzlies jumped out to an early two goal lead. The Snakes responded with a good push back shift, had a few good opportunities in tight, couldn't solve Matthew Galajda. Vernon was outshooting Victoria 8-3 eight minutes in but down two goals. In the second half the Vipers would get the games first powerplay, with good sustained pressure, Vernon rattled off four or five shots but unable to capitalize with the man advantage as the Grizzlies killed off the minor. With just under three minutes remaining, Cole Pickup on a parcial breakaway fired high and over the goal, missing on a good opportunity. About a minute later Shane Kelly couldn't hold the puck in at the blueline, allowing Keyvan Mokhtari & Lucas Clark to break free on the two on one, Mokhtari kept and fired, beating Ty Taylor fivehole giving Victoria a 3-0 lead at 18:36 Mokhtari's goal was unassisted. It was 3-0 Victoria after 20 minutes of play. The Grizzlies jump out to a quick two goal lead on just three shots, just less then five minutes in. T.J. Friedmann's shot-goal was a hell of a shot and a heck of a goal, but I thought the Grizzlies second goal should have been waived off, after a Victoria forward was deep in the crease. Even with the Grizzlies up 3-0 I thought this was a fairly evenly matched and played opening period. I thought both teams played hard with very little hitting in a pretty non physical game. Victoria capitalized-scored on their chances, while Vernon couldn't bury some of their chances in close. Vernon outshot Victoria 14-8.
2nd Period: The Grizz jumped on the Snakes early and often, had Vernon hemmed in their own end early. Nick Guiney left the Grizzlies bench for the dressing room early, looked to be in some discomfort, was looked at by the trainer before returning to the bench on the following shift. Three minutes into the middle frame Victoria was buzzing in and around the Viper goal. Ty Taylor was flopping around like a fish out of water after having to sprawl back and fourth after two goal mouth scrambles just minutes in. The Grizzlies come close to grabbing a four goal lead, couldn't convert on an open cage after some nice tic tac toe passing. Five minutes in Nathan Looysen was hooked on the breakaway, unable to get a shot off, put Victoria on their first powerplay of the night. On the man advantage, Lucas Clark with a great opportunity at the top of the crease was stoned by Vipers starting goaltender Ty Taylor, who come up with a huge pad save. After the big stop it was all Vernon who played very well on the penalty kill. Shorthanded captain Riley Brandt did all the work with the puck along the end wall, used his strength to hold of two defenders before cutting back out front of the net, couldn't beat Grizzlies starting goaltender Matthew Galajda who made a big save shorthanded. The Snakes with a very strong penalty kill, killed off the penalty. It was all Victoria in the first half before the Vipers slowly got going. In the second half "AP" Coleton Bilodeau with a great chance in the high slot was denied by Matthew Galajda. Shortly after Austin Adamson with a redirect going to the net couldn't solve Matthew Galajda. Vernon started coming on in the second half, and playing-looking better. Late in the frame the Snakes would get just their second powerplay of the evening. The Vipers struggled with the PP as the Grizz were able to kill off the minor. Just as the penalty expired, Jesse Lansdell couldn't beat Matthew Galajda on the wrap around. The Vipers with some good looks in the final minutes. It was 3-0 Victoria after 40 minutes of play. The Grizzlies jumped on the Snakes early and often as it was all Victoria in the first half. The Grizz with a ton of zone time-sustained pressure, had the Vipers back on their heels, as Vernon was having all kinds of troubles clearing the zone. Victoria with a strong forecheck and team speed, were dangerous in the offensive zone. The Grizzlies may have been the better team/carried the better of the play in the opening ten minutes, didn't get a lot of pucks to the net, had a few good looks. The Vipers badly outplayed in the first half, seemed to re-group and look-play a little better in the second half. The Vipers with a strong penalty kill, had some quality chances in the second half, couldn't solve Matthew Galajda. The Grizz were the better of the two teams for most of the 2nd period. Vernon outshot Victoria 15-8.
3rd Period: For a second straight period Victoria jumped on the Vipers, as Vernon looked flat to start the final frame. The Snakes struggled offensively early, had troubles getting out of their own end. The Vernon forwards were way up at the centre line, looking for the long stretch pass, wich the Grizzlies were picking off almost every attempt. Nathan Looysen with a great chance in close about four minutes into the frame, was stopped twice by Ty Taylor who come up with back to back pad saves, keeping the Vipers in the game. The Snakes would get a powerplay just before the midway mark and capitalize. Cameron Trott's shot was stopped in front before Ryan Brushett buried the rebound in front, cutting the Victoria lead to 3-1 at 9:39 Trott and Michael Ufberg collected the helpers. The Grizzlies would jump on the powerplay three minutes later. Victoria unable to put this game away, as Vernon killed off the minor. The Snakes would get a powerplay about a minute later as teams exchanging powerplays. Brett Stapley with a great individual effort, went in and around two Victoria defenders before beating Matthew Galajda cutting the Victoria lead to 3-2 at 16:23 Jimmy Lambert & Michael Ufberg drew the assists. Vernon coming on strong late, had some good looks-chances, missed the far corner on atleast two opportunities. Mark Ferner would call a timeout, getting Ty Taylor to the bench for the extra attacker with 1:23 to go. The Snakes with good pressure, were forced/held to the outside, limited to their shots finally able to allow Michael Ufberg's point shot get through traffic with fourty one seconds left, looked to hit someone on it's way to the net looked to hit Matthew Galajda in the shoulder before bouncing down in the blue paint before the Grizz were able to clear the puck from harms way. Nathan Looysen would eventually put the game away with an empty netter from the neutral zone, giving Victoria a 4-2 lead. Looysen's goal was unassisted. Victoria would hold onto the 4-2 win. After the game and both teams had filed off the ice, Nathan Looysen was talking with the officials in front of the penalty box for a good minute or so before making his way back to the Victoria bench, where two coaches were standing waiting for him. While talking to one coach, it looked like the coach was very upset, giving Looysen a stern talking before the two made their way to the dressing room. The Vipers looked flat off the opening faceoff, were caught standing around. The Grizzlies jumped on Vernon early, had some good looks before the Vipers would get on the board and get with in two. I thought the Snakes struggled offensively for most of the first half, had all kinds of troubles getting out of their own end-getting through the neutral zone. Both teams didn't get a lot of great chances in that first half. I thought the Vipers come on once getting on the board, played with a little more urgency in the second half. Vernon had some good looks in the second half, didn't get much puck luck in and around the goal. The Vipers got within one, making things interesting. I thought Vernon had the better of the opportunities. Victoria outshot Vernon 10-8.
Top Players: (Vernon)
Ryan Brushett (1 goal) I thought was dangerous at times, used his speed and skill, to create/generate chances. Was one of the more dangerous forwards.
Coleton Bilodeau (AP) I thought was one of if not Vernon's most consistent players in the loss. Was very strong on the draw, won most of if not all of his faceoffs, showed a bit of speed, has some size, worked-battled hard, was skating hard, creating-generating chances. I thought after down 3-0 put this kid up on the 1st or 2nd line, to see what he can do. Maybe add a spark-create-generate a goal, to try and get the Vipers going. Overall played a strong game.
Ty Taylor (23 saves) Didn't get much luck in the opening frame, allowed three goals on just eight shots, would like the third Victoria goal back, couldn't be blamed on the first two goals. I thought after the 1st period Taylor settled down, didn't see a lot of rubber in the 2nd and 3rd periods, did make a few big saves to keep this game-score from getting away and giving his team a chance to stay in the contest.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
I didn't think the Vipers played all that bad in the 1st but saw themselves down 3-0 heading into the 2nd period. I thought Victoria got lucky-the bounces on their first two goals, saw Vernon down two goals less then five minutes into the hockey game. I thought the Snakes played fairly well in the 1st other then being down three goals. I thought Vernon had some good chances-needed to capitalize on a few of these opportunities. The Vipers had a few good looks-chances in close couldn't find the back of the net. Now the 2nd period was a different story. How many times have Viper fans seen this movie? Vernon come out flat, were hemmed in their own end, running around, chasing the Grizzlies for the first half of that 2nd period. The Snakes struggled defensively and offensively before getting their game going in the second half, were able to come on strong late to finish the middle frame, were still down three goals. I thought the Vipers looked flat to start the 3rd, had troubles offensively seemed to get going after Ryan Brushett's powerplay marker. The Vipers had some looks-chances in the second half of the 3rd, got within a goal come very close to tying the game after Michael Ufberg's point shot hit someone-Matthew Galajda in front, didn't bounce into the goal. Overall I didn't think the Snakes played near sixty minutes. I liked Vernon's 1st period and their second half in the 2nd and 3rd periods. The Vipers had troubles scoring all night, were staying away from the front of the net. The Snakes missed on a few good opportunities, didnt get many bounces-breaks in and around the goal. Vernon had some good opportunities, but nobody was driving to the net-looking for the rebound-second opportunities. At times the Vipers were shooting from well out, making Matthew Galajda look good. I didn't like the Viper powerplay, but thought the penalty kill was very good-strong. In a basically mean nothing game other then pride, the Vipers played a pretty non physical game with not a lot of urgency-intensity at times. The Vipers struggled with Victoria's strong forecheck, turned over the puck several times through out the night. Watching Vernon try and breakout of their own end was painful. The wingers were way out near centre ice, waiting for the long stretch pass. Give the Vipers some credit, after going down 3-0 they managed to hold the Grizzlies off the board until Nathan Looysen's empty netter. Vernon also held the Island leading Grizzlies to eight shots in periods 1 & 2 before only giving up ten in the 3rd. The Vipers have now lost three of their last four and four of their last six. Vernon has won just nine of their last fifteen games.
Top Player's: (Victoria)
Jake Stevens I thought was very solid on the backend. Saw a lot of ice time, was very hard to beat one on one, played very well at both ends of the rink.
Brett Stirling was another Victoria defenceman that played very well.
Keyvan Mokhtari (1 goal & 1 assist) Was very dangerous, has some wheels, can move the puck in a hurry, very shifty-crafty with and without the puck, was a force up front through out the game. One of the Grizzlies more dominat forwards.
Nathan Looysen (1 goal) I thought was another forward who played well, has some size, had some opportunities, was going to the net.
Lucas Clark had a strong night in the win, was another forward who was dangerous through out the evening. A good strong skater, was creating/generating chances.
Matthew Galajda (35 saves) Improves to 2-0 vs the Vipers this season, shutout Vernon 3-0 in Victoria back in November. Galajda was tested-made some big stops in that opening period, was focused, calm and confident between the pipes. Made some big saves in the second half of the 2nd period, is quick on his feet, dosnt give up a lot of second opportunities, played well.
Game Thought's: (Victoria)
The Grizzlies with a quick start, jumped out to a 2-0 lead just less then five minutes into the game. I thought Victoria's second goal should have been waived off after a player was deep in the Viper crease. Victoria was outshot 8-3 about eight minutes into the game, but up two goals. I thought the Grizz played well for most of the night. Victoria played a very good/smart road game, in a tough rink where the Vipers have been good on home ice. This team has some size, has speed and skill and a strong forecheck. The Grizzlies didn't fire a ton of pucks towards the goal, seem to move the puck around often, looking-waiting for the perfect setup-play before getting that shot off. The Grizzlies capitalized on their chances. I thought Victoria was the better of the two teams, forced the Vipers into turnovers-making mistakes. Really forced the puck at the blueline, forcing the Vernon d-men into turning over the puck. A pretty non physical game, in where the Snakes did more of the few hits that were tossed tonight. The Grizzlies have won five of their last six on the road. Victoria extends their winning streak to three games, have won nine of their last ten games. The Grizzlies win the season series 2-0.
Hunter Zandee (Injured)
Energy Player of the Game:
Brett Stapley ( goal)
1st Star: Cody Van Lierop (1 goal)
2nd Star: Michael Ufberg (2 assists)
3rd Star: T.J. Friedmann (1 goal)