I was at tonight's Vipers-Wild game as Wenatchee defeated Vernon 3-1 in front of 1,981 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Darion Hanson
Wenatchee: Anthony Yamnitsky
1st Period: Off the opening faceoff captain Riley Brandt with a huge check deep in the Wild zone, sent a Wenatchee player hard into the end boards (didn't see who it was) before Matt Baker come back the other way, forced Darion Hanson into making a difficult save, juggling the puck before holding onto it inside the opening minute. The Wild player was very slow and looked very leary making his way to the Wild bench, was attended too by the trainer. The Vipers responded on the following few shifts, breaking out on an odd man rush. Jimmy Lambert tried setting up Steven Jandric on the fly couldn't connect in front. Back come the wild off the same play, Darion Hanson made a big save off the wrap around from in close. A flurry of chances at either end of the rink inside the opening few minutes. The Snakes would get the games first powerplay just under four minutes into the contest but it would be a strong penalty kill by Wenatchee who would carry the better of the play. Shorthanded Charlie Combs and Bredan Harris with back to back opportunities had Darion Hanson scrambling in the blue paint, was forced to come up with two big stops shorthanded as the Wild were on the attack. The Viper powerplay couldn't get out of their own end, as a strong forecheck from the Wild caused several turnovers, leading to shots-Wild chances. Wenatchee with a strong penalty kill, got about five shots on goal killed off the minor getting some great opportunities. The Wild outshooting the Vipers 7-2 early. Ryan Brushett looked to go down awkwardly, looked to have some discomfort in his hand-fingers, was shaking his hand on the way to the bench, had his glove off looking at his hand, but stayed in the game. Just before the halfway mark Vernon would get another shot with the man advantage. Steven Jandric on the wrap around couldn't get the puck out front before Jimmy Lambert looked to have Anthony Yamnitsky out of position was robbed after the Wild goaltender somehow managed to recover, coming across the blue paint to stone Lambert in front keeping the Snakes off the board. The Vipers with a few pucks to the net, didn't get many chances, as Wenatchee killed off its second penalty of the period. Shots were now 9-8 in favor of the Snakes. Just minutes later the Wild would get their first powerplay of the evening, moving the puck around in a hurry, managed to get a few looks but couldn't solve Darion Hanson. Wenatchee had some looks, couldn't capitalize as Vernon killed off the minor. Late in the period Connor Clouston with a big check along the side wall, would be called for boarding as tempers heated up in a hurry. Several players jumped in-got involved in the scrum along the boards as the Wild come out with the powerplay. Still on the man advantage but with just 2.2 seconds remaining, the Wild get Anthony Yamnitsky to the bench for an extra attacker, but the Wild couldn't capitalize before the buzzer. It was 0-0 after 20 minutes of play. Vipers captain Riley Brandt returned to the lineup after being out with a broken thumb and started the game off with a bang, laying out a huge hit off the opening faceoff. A flurry of chances at both ends of the rink early and often in a very quick, fast pace game. Most of the action-opportunities were inside the first five minutes. The Wild jumped on the Vipers early, had the better of the play, before the Snakes settled down as the period went on with some good pace to game. The Vipers didn't get many chances struggled with the powerplay and in their own end. The Snakes defence had their pockets picked on several plays, were too slow moving the puck up ice. Vernon played a very physical period, laying out some big checks. The Wild move the puck in a hurry, have a ton of speed, were outskating and outworking the Vipers for a lot of the period. I thought the Wild were the better team. Wenatchee outshot Vernon 21-12.
2nd Period: The Wild started the middle frame with the man advantage that was carried over from the opening period. The Vipers were able to kill off the remainder of the minor. It didn't take long for the Wild to open the scoring, about a minute after the powerplay Dakota Raabe setup Matt Baker who beat Darion Hanson on a wrap around that just barley snuck in, giving Wenatchee a early 1-0 lead at 2:01 Raabe with the lone assist. Two minutes later Jimmy Lambert on a chance in front couldn't solve Anthony Yamnitsky who come up with a big stop with traffic in front. Two minutes later the Wild jumped on their third powerplay. Brendan Harris with a quick pass setup Charlie Combs at the side of the net, for the one timer that beat Vipers starting goaltender Darion Hanson topshelf giving Wenatchee a 2-0 lead at 6:50 Harris & Chad Sasaki collected the helpers. A few minutes later Jesse Lansdell and Chris Jones got into a stick swinging match as the two took a couple of swings at each other, before taking a punch towards one another as the two were both sent to the penalty box. On the following play Chad Sasaki's point shot was redirected in front by Jasper Weatherby giving Wenatchee a 3-0 lead at 8:47 Sasaki picked up the assist. Mark Ferner would call his timeout to try and settle down the Vipers. Off the following draw, Darion Hanson had to be sharp, was forced to make several saves in tight on a goal mouth scramble as the Wild looking for their fourth goal couldn't jam away the puck past Hanson. Wenatchee was outshooting Vernon 11-2 nine minutes into the 2nd period. Just before the midway mark Logan Milliken's point shot hit a body in front changed directions forcing Darion Hanson into making a difficult save. Just past the midway mark Shane Kelly took an undisciplined spearing penalty, giving Wenatchee a four minute powerplay. Shorthanded Jimmy Lambert on a parcial breakaway, wound up and ripped a heavy shot high that went off the knob of Wild's starting goaltender Anthony Yamnitsky goal stick. Riley Brandt and Brian Williams got tangled up in front of the Viper goal, as the two looked to get heated during the play. Both players would be sent to the penalty box, but Williams looked to get injured on the play with Brandt and made his way to the Wild dressing room, before returning later. Darion Hanson made some big stops while the Vipers penalty kill was good, would kill off the four minutes. It was 3-0 Wenatchee after 40 minutes of play. The Wild opened the scoring just 2:01 into the middle frame, would score three pretty quick goals in a span of under seven minutes to really take full control of this hockey game. It was all Wenatchee from start to finish as the Wild dominated the play through out the 2nd period. The Wild carried most of the play, saw a ton of zone time, were buzzing in and around the Vernon net. Wenatchee with a ton of good chances, were firing everything towards the goal. The Vipers saw very limited zone time, had two quality chances, played most of the 2nd period in their own end. Were caught standing around, turning over pucks, giving up several opportunities, had all kinds of troubles defending against a very strong-skilled Wild hockey team. Wenatchee outshot Vernon 20-8.
3rd Period: The Wild jumped on the Vipers early, had the better of the play early before Austin Adamson would get a parcial breakaway was denied by Anthony Yamnitsky before the Wild would get into penalty trouble. The Snakes would get a pretty lengthy five on three but couldn't capitalize with the man advantage. Vernon struggled with the PP were slow, managed just four shots failed to get on the board and get back in the game. But just fifty five seconds later Cameron Trott setup Austin Adamson down low who beat Anthony Yamnitsky at the side of the net, cutting the Wenatchee lead to 3-1 at 8:20 Trott and Luke Gingras picked up the helpers getting the crowd back into the game. This goal was huge and seemed to change the momentum in a hurry. Vernon responded with a good push back from here on in. The Vipers would finally get their legs going, using some of their own speed, slowly started coming on and coming in waves. Just past the halfway mark Niko Karamanis tried setting up Riley Brandt in front who was dumped going to the goal after a strong defensive play by Chris Jones. Shortly after Jagger Williamson alone in front put a nice move in on Anthony Yamnitsky couldn't beat the Wenatchee goaltender in close who made a big save before Jasper Weatherby come back the other way, was stopped by Darion Hanson who made a big stop. On the following shift Hanson then flashed the leather after making a quick glove save off a shot from the high slot, keeping this a two goal game. The Snakes looking to get within a goal had a flurry of quality chances in and around the net, couldn't solve Anthony Yamnitsky. The Vipers would get Darion Hanson to the bench for the extra attacker with 2:02 remaining. The Wild missed several shots from well out, missing the open cage. With time winding down, Vernon struggled to get any real sustained pressure as Wenatchee would hold onto the 3-1 victory. The Vipers with a lengthy five on three powerplay early to start the period, struggled. Needed to get atleast a goal here. Austin Adamson got Vernon on the board shortly after before the Snakes getting some good chances down the stretch, couldn't get within one. The Vipers using the body, played very physical. Vernon was the better team. The Wild who carried most of the play in the first two periods, didn't see a lot of time with the puck in the offensive zone, played a lot of the 3rd defending. Anthony Yamnitsky made some big stops and the Wild defence blocked several shots holding onto the win. Vernon outshot Wenatchee 12-6.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Riley Brandt returned to the lineup after being out with a broken thumb since December 29th. Brandt added that energy-spark-physical play the Vipers needed, was hitting almost everyone in sight, showed lots of energy, was skating hard, played hard through out the loss.
Jesse Lansdell I thought was another forward that played physical-was getting under the skin of several Wild players. Lansdell battled-competed, was getting involved in the after the play activities, played well through out the night.
Jimmy Lambert I thought was the most dangerous Viper tonight, had atleast three grade "A" chances, couldn't beat Anthony Yamnitsky.
Darion Hanson (44 saves) Saw one of his more busier nights in a while. Had to be sharp, was forced into making several big stops through out the loss. Come up with some big stops on the penalty kill, saw most of his action in the 1st and 2nd periods. Gave his team a chance to win-stay in the game.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
I thought the Snakes come out hitting, were very aggressive playing the body, were in awe with the Wilds speed, skill and aggressive penalty kill in the opening period, Vernon settled down a bit but had troubles adjusting to the strong forecheck and work ethic from the Wild. The Vipers were coughing up-turning over the puck way too many times in the first two periods, lead to Wenatchee opportunities. I thought Vernon was a step or two behind the Wild in the first and second periods, didn't seem to have their legs going. The Vipers were getting beat to the puck, losing the races, not winning the battles and losing the puck when it was on their sticks. Had troubles coming out of their own end, played a lot of the 1st and 2nd periods in their own end. The Snakes had a few good opportunities in the 1st, didn't come anywhere close to quality chances in the 2nd. I thought the Vipers played ok at times in the 1st really struggled in the 2nd were dominated. Vernon gave up 21 shots in the 1st and 20 in the 2nd, including several opportunities. The Snakes seemed to get their game going in the 3rd, carried the better of the play, were finally getting pucks to the net-creating-generating more chances. The Vipers needed to bury some of their chances, couldn't capitalize on their opportunities. I didn't like Vernon's powerplay, too slow, dont get enough shots, allow the other teams penalty kill to get setup, need to move the puck quicker, get more shots towards the net, look for second opportunities in front. I thought the Viper penalty kill was very good. Yes they gave up a PP goal but played very well shorthanded. I really liked the physical presence, were very physical through out the evening. Vernon needs to play closer to sixty minutes, especially if they want to beat a team like Wenatchee. Overall I thought the Vipers were just a step or two behind the Wild. The Vipers had trouble with the Wild speed, skill and strong forecheck. The 2nd period is what cost Vernon the hockey game. Giving up three pretty quick goals less then seven minutes apart really hurt but being outplayed-dominated that bad didn't help either. A lot of energy in the building, had a playoff like atmosphere at the start of the game. The Vipers have only managed to beat Wenatchee once in five games since the Wild joined the league last season. With the loss and the Vees 2-1 win in Trail, Penticton clinches its sixth straight Interior Division Title. Former Viper captain David Robinson was in attendance. Merritt Centennials head scout Dan Sallows was at tonight's game. I wanted to say a big hello to a new follower of the blog. Hello to Mike from Aukland New Zealand and thanks for checking out-visiting my blog.
Top Player's: (Wenatchee)
Chad Sasaki (2 assists) Played very well on the blueline. Picking up two helpers, really moves the puck well, quick on his feet, sees-reads the ice well.
Matt Baker (1 goal) I thought was very aggressive on the forecheck, goes to the net, always buzzing in and around the goal, was involved in the play often. Another quick skater, was hard to contain at times.
Charlie Combs (1 goal) This kid is pretty impressive. Quick, moves the puck in a hurry, very skilled, hard to defend against, very dangerous with and without the puck, always a threat in and around the net, has a super quick release-wicked shot.
Brendan Harris (1 assist) Another forward that gave the Vipers troubles all night. Quick, very skilled, dangerous with and without the puck, hard to defend against, hard to contain.
Chris Jones Was in the face of several Vipers through out the game, was getting under the skin of several Vernon players. Played very well at both ends of the rink, made a few big defensive plays, was strong on the backend.
Anthony Yamnitsky (31 saves) Wasn't tested as much as Darion Hanson but made some big stops through out the night. Come up with a huge save off Jimmy Lambert on the Viper powerplay in the 1st and then made two big saves in the 2nd period before being tested more in the 3rd was forced to make some tough saves with Vernon attacking. Very quick on his feet, gets across the crease in a hurry, very mobile.
Game Thought's: (Wenatchee)
The Wild come into Vernon as the leagues best team with just eight regulation losses and they showed why. The Wild are the best team Ive seen play so far this season. Wenatchee has one of the more smaller clubs in the league, that Ive seen are all about speed, skill and hard work. This is the quickest team I have seen this season, they move the puck in a hurry, quick passes, generate-create a lot of opportunities. The Wild have a very strong-aggressive forecheck that jump on the defence in a hurry, make the defence turnover the puck often. The Wild never quit, a very hard working team that even excelerates on the backcheck. Even up three goals you can hear Bliss Littler yelling from the bench at guys staying out too long. A very lively bench, as all three coaches are always yapping-keeping the bench focused. A very well coached team, that is fairly disciplined, plays hard, battles, dosnt play very physical, stays away from the physical play, makes you pay for your mistakes. This team is very good, very hard to defend against, hard to contain. It looked like the Wild had the puck on a string at times. Super skilled with and without the puck. A very aggressive penalty kill, sending three guys up front with just one defender back. Overall the Wild were the better team and fully deserved the win. Great to see a good fifteen or more Wild fans make the trip up for the game. For all you trivia fans, Wild assistant coach is former Salmon Arm Silverbacks goaltender Chris Clark (2001-02). Wenatchee has outscored the Vipers 13-5 in three games this year, win the season series 3-0 improve to 2-0 in Vernon all-time.
Hunter Zandee (Injured)
Energy Player of the Game:
1st Star: Anthony Yamnitsky (31 saves)
2nd Star: Charlie Combs (1 goal)
3rd Star: Darion Hanson (44 saves)