I was at tonight's Interior Division Semifinals Game 2 Vipers-Smoke Eaters game as Vernon defeated Trail 5-2 in front of 1,945 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Darion Hanson
Trail Linden Marshall
1st Period: Trail would jump on an early powerplay just over a minute into the contest. Inside the opening minute a huge hit in the corner inside the Smokies zone, caused some problems with the side gate. A minor delay to fix the gate before the play resumed. The Smoke Eaters struggled with the man advantage, couldn't get any real sustained pressure or generate any opportunities as Vernon would kill off the minor. The Smokies didn't quit, kept battling and would eventually get some good pressure in the offensive zone. Four minutes in Shane Kelly's point shot was redirected on it's way to the goal, just sailing over top of the net. A minute later Darion Hanson was forced to make a tough save with traffic in front. The Smokies come ready to play, had lots of jump/energy in their game and carried the better of the play early. About seven or eight minutes in both teams really picked up the physical play, as several hits were being tossed around from both hockey clubs. Just before the halfway mark Darion Hanson was once again forced into making a difficult save with a Trail player skating through the crease. Just past the midway mark the Snakes would get their first look with the powerplay. The Vipers struggled with the man advantage as the Smoke Eaters killed off the penalty. About a minute later Connor Clouston & Connor Brown-Maloski got tangled up behind the Vernon goal, as the two engaged in some words-shoving match, before Clouston gave Brown-Maloski a crosscheck as the two were sent to the penalty box. Seconds later Trail would get their second look with the powerplay, before taking a minor of their own. Both teams played a little four on four before the Vipers would get a late shortened powerplay. On the PP Cameron Trott spotted Niko Karamanis going to the net, beat Linden Marshall at the side of the net, giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 15:27 Trott and Chris Jandric picked up the helpers. On the following shift captain Riley Brandt on a wrap around couldn't beat Linden Marshall down low, making a big stop shortly after giving up a goal. Shortly after Jimmy Lambert couldn't connect on a pass, had a great opportunity with the wide open cage. With two and a half minutes remaining the Snakes fired the puck into the offensive zone, the puck would hit-bounce off defenceman Ethan Martini before Linden Marshall was forced to make a difficult save as Martini just about put the puck into his own net late in the period. It was 1-0 Vernon after 20 minutes of play. I thought the Smoke Eaters were ready to play, got off to a good start, come at Vernon hard, with a strong attack, carried a lot of the play in the first half. Trail couldn't capitalize on an early powerplay a minute in but had some good control with the puck. The Snakes didn't see much time in the offensive zone early, had more zone time in the second half. Very few shots/scoring chances at both ends of the rink in a very feisty-emotional period. Trail outshot Vernon 8-7.
2nd Period: Just twenty seven seconds into the middle frame, Brett Stapley stepped over the blue line before ripping a hard shot from well out that beat Smoke Eaters starting goaltender Linden Marshall giving Vernon a 2-0 lead at 0:27 Connor Clouston & Cooper Watson with the assists. Jesse Lansdell left the Vipers bench early, made his way to the dressing room with the trainer, would be ok and return later. On the Smokies side Joshua Laframboise took a huge hit along the side wall, was slow heading off the ice, looked to have hurt-injure his shoulder, made his way to the Trail dressing room and didn't return. The Smoke Eaters would get an early powerplay just over five minutes into the frame, but again couldn't seem to generate much for offence. The Vipers were able to kill off the minor before Trail would gain some good pressure after the powerplay. Just before the halfway mark Jagger Williamson with a quality chance couldn't solve Linden Marshall. At the midway mark Brett Stapley and Ross Armour would mix it up in front of the Viper net, with traffic in front of Darion Hanson. The two would be sent off to the penalty box. A few minutes later Trail would get their second look of the period with the powerplay, but shorthanded Riley Brandt setup Jagger Williamson on the two on one attack, Williamson beat Linden Marshall giving Vernon a 3-0 lead at 14:35 Brandt and Shane Kelly collected the assists. Brandt and a Trail defender would get tangled up behind the net after the goal, as the two took some swings at one another before Brandt skated away. The Snakes with a huge kill were up by three. With 2:31 remaining Steven Jandric setup Luke Gingras who one on one fired a lazer of a shot from the circle beat Linden Marshall far corner looked to give Vernon a commanding 4-0 lead before the goal was called off. The play was blown dead before the goal after Jandric was given two minutes for roughing on the play before the goal was scored. It was still 3-0 Vernon. Mark Ferner and the Vipers were upset as the Viper bench was giving it to the officials. The Vipers would spring Jagger Williamson in for the shorthanded breakaway who was denied by Linden Marshall coming up with a big stop. The Smoke Eaters looking pretty loose on the powerplay would eventually get on the board after Connor Brown-Maloski's shot was tipped in front by Luke Santerno cutting the Vernon lead to 3-1 at 17:56 Brown-Maloski & Carter Cochrane with the helpers. But just seven seconds later Steven Jandric with revenge on his mind scored a highlight reel goal going hard to the net, sliding the puck under Linden Marshall giving Vernon a 4-1 lead at 18:03 Jandric's goal was unassisted. Tempers heated up again just over a minute later after more pushing and shoving as emotions starting getting carried away on both sides. It was 4-1 Vernon after 40 minutes of play. Once again I thought the Smokies were the better of the two teams in the first half. I thought Trail had more puck possession and more time in the offensive zone. The Smoke Eaters didn't generate many quality chances but still carried the slight edge in play. The turning point was obviously the Snakes shorthanded goal giving Vernon a commanding 3-0 lead. The Vipers don't get this goal and Trail scores on the powerplay, we have a one goal game. It's now 3-0 instead of maybe 2-1. I thought the Vipers stepped up their play and forecheck in the second half. Vernon with two big goals in the second half, giving them a three goal lead heading into the 3rd. Emotions and tempers boiled over in a heated 2nd period with several altercations taking place through out the frame. Trail outshot Vernon 13-11.
3rd Period: The Snakes jumped on Trail early, with a strong forecheck Vernon carried the play early and often. Kyle Chernenkoff went down in a hurry in front of the Smoke Eaters bench, was attended to by the team trainer, was ok and stayed in the game. I didn't see what happened, I figure he either took a stick or puck to the face area. The Vipers would get an early powerplay but unable to capitalize with the man advantage. The Snakes with good pressure, had a few good looks, couldn't find the back of the net. Vernon was all over Trail for the entire first half, as the Smokies needed twelve minutes to record their first shot of the period. Steven Jandric with a nice move down low, was denied by Linden Marshall in close on a smart play by Jandric. The Vipers would get their second look with the PP at the half waymark, once again had lots of good pressure, unable to capitalize. Shortly after killing off the minor a big scrum forced several players to get involved. After the melay was broken up Steven Jandric, Jimmy Lambert, Ryan Warner & Spencer McLean were all given ten minute misconducts and forced to leave the game. On the following shift Luke Santerno setup Connor Brown-Maloski going to the net, beat Darion Hanson cutting the Vernon lead to 4-2 at 12:57 Santerno and Andre Ghantous picked up the assists. Less then a minute later the Smokies would lose any kind of momentum after taking a penalty, sending Vernon back to the powerplay. A big penalty kill by Trail before getting a late powerplay of their own. Down two goals the Smoke Eaters would get Linden Marshall to the bench for the lengthy five on three. Trail with good pressure, had troubles getting pucks to the net after a strong defensive play by the Viper penalty killers. The Snakes with a very aggressive penalty kill, were able to kill off the minor before the Smokies called a late timeout. With Marshall still on the bench for the extra attacker, Niko Karamanis from his own blueline did all the hard work to get into the offensive zone, drove to the net was hauled down before getting the puck out front to Jagger Williamson who found the back of the open cage, giving Vernon a 5-2 lead at 19:06 Karamanis with the lone helper. The Snakes would wind down the clock to come away with the 5-2 victory, taking a 2-0 series lead. The Vipers come ready to play to start the 3rd looked like a team on a mission, were strong with the puck, had a ton of zone time early, carried most of the play, dominated the first ten minutes, playing most of the first half in the Trail zone. Other then a few good looks & the odd quality chance I didn't think Vernon had a lot of grade A chances in that 3rd period. Trail on the other hand, had troubles getting control of the puck-getting out of their own end. The Smoke Eaters would eventually get control of the play in the second half, needed to capitalize on the powerplay to get within a goal but struggled. The Vipers were the better team in the final frame. Vernon outshot Trail 16-4.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Cooper Watson (1 assist) I thought played a very smart-strong game through out the win. Watson was very good at both ends of the rink, made some smart defensive plays but also made some strong heads up plays moving the puck up ice.
Ryan Brushett I thought played very well for a second straight game. Was really skating well, moving the puck. This kid has a ton of skill, but just dosnt have the finish around the net. Has some very skilled-soft hands, was making several good plays through the neutral zone.
Jagger Williamson (2 goals) Stepped up his game scoring twice. Played with energy, was skating hard, going to the net, strong on the penalty kill, aggressive on the forecheck, battled-competed. Scored a huge 3rd goal shorthanded to give the Vipers a 3-0 lead.
Niko Karamanis (1 goal & 1 assist) Had a heck of a game, picking up two points was very strong with and without the puck. Really used his speed and drive to the net, to get rewarded on both his goal and assist. Was also very good on the penalty kill, blocked at least two if not three shots on the PK. Battled-played hard all night.
Jimmy Lambert I thought was shutdown in Game 1 had troubles finding open ice last night, stepped up his play in Game two, found open ice, used his speed and skill to create-generate chances through out the game. Played with lots of jump/energy, dug deep to find open ice, played hard all night. Was going to the net-looking for opportunities.
Luke Gingras didn't stand out at first but seemed to get better and play better as the game went on. I didn't really notice the Viper forward until about the midway mark of the 2nd period, really picked up his game, battled-played hard, was aggressive on the puck, winning the battles down low, was also laying the body-getting under the skin of a few Trail players. Competed all night.
Steven Jandric (1 goal) Also was checked hard last night, couldn't seem to find any open ice, but like Lambert stepped up his game tonight. Really used his speed, played with a ton of jump-energy, was really flying tonight. Was driving to the net-rewarded with the Snakes fourth goal late in the 2nd period.
Chris Jandric Played very well on the blueline. I thought made some smart plays through out the night.
Darion Hanson (23 saves) I don't think was forced into making any big stops like in Game 1 was forced into making a few difficult saves in the opening period, played well through out the night.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
The Vipers didn't control or carry the majority of the play like in Game 1 had to play hard-compete to earn their goals and the victory tonight. Vernon who carried most of the play-dominated most of Game 1 had to work hard, battle and earn their goals-win tonight. A totally different game compared to last night. I thought the Snakes played a much more complete game-sixty minutes last night. I thought Trail come to play tonight and for the first two periods, had a slight edge in play. The Vipers had to play a lot more in their own end tonight, needed to work hard to earn their goals tonight. I thought Vernon really stepped up their play in the 3rd and ate most of the 3rd period by controlling the play for at least the first half. Tonight saw a lot more emotion on both sides, as tempers heated up at times. Both teams were hitting-playing physical. I thought the Vipers capitalized on their chances, didn't get as much zone time as in Game 1 had to work harder. I thought the Snakes did the little things that don't come up on the score sheet, blocked several shots on the penalty, put their body on the line on several occasions, diving for loose pucks, diving to make a play etc. You could really see tonight that these kids have bought into the coaching staff and their team mates, in the way they played tonight. How big was Jagger Williamson's 2nd period shorthanded goal? If the Snakes don't score here, & Trail comes back and scores on the powerplay, it's now 2-1 not 3-0. The Vipers with a huge win in Game 2 now head to Trail for Games 3 & 4 Monday-Tuesday. The next game is huge for either team. Former Vipers forward Trevor Keenan was at tonight's game.
Top Player's: (Trail)
Kyle Chernenkoff I thought battled hard, played very well on the backend.
Luke Santerno (1 goal & 1 assist) Was the Smokies most dangerous forward. Was going to the net often, hard to defend against. A good skater-has some skilled hands, dangerous in and around the net.
Troy Ring Was another Trail defenceman I thought played a strong game. Played well at both ends of the rink, was jumping up into the rush, getting pucks to the net, played well.
Game Thought's: (Trail)
After a 2-0 loss in Game 1 I thought the Smoke Eaters played a much better game in Game two. Trail who was outplayed-dominated for most of Game 1 looked & played liked a different team in Game 2. This was a much better effort-performance. The Smokies come ready to play tonight and played well for most of the night. I thought Trail carried the better of the play at times in the first two periods, had a slight edge in play but didn't generate-create enough offensive chances. I thought the Smokies had good pressure at times, couldn't seem to get any real quality opportunities. I thought Trail did a better job at checking Vernon's top line last night, gave this line more time and space tonight and it showed. On the bright side the Smokies did a better job at shutting down the Zandee, Brushett and Adamson line, where as in Game 1 these three were the Vipers best unit. The Smoke Eaters are going to have to try and find a way to get on the board first, and create/generate more chances. Giving up the shorthanded goal in the middle frame to fall behind 3-0 was a killer. Shortly after Trail gets on the board to get within two but couldn't hold off the Viper attack, falls behind three for a second time. Down 4-1 heading into the 3rd was a huge hill to climb and it looked like Trail ran out of gas come the final frame. The Smoke Eaters just didn't have that same intensity in the 3rd, they showed in periods one and two. The Smoke Eaters needed twelve minutes to record their first shot of the 3rd needed to capitalize on a powerplay to try and get within a goal but couldn't. I thought Trail played much better after Game 1 is going to have to re-group and get a must win in Game 3 back home. A huge loss seeing Joshua Laframboise leave the ice early into the 2nd period. With Kale Howarth out, losing Laframboise is going to hurt. Great to see a good turnout of Smoke Eater fans tonight.
Energy Player of the Game:
Shane Kelly (1 assist)
1st Star: Jagger Williamson (2 goals)
2nd Star: Niko Karamanis (1 goal & 1 assist)
3rd Star: Luke Santerno (1 goal & 1 assist)