I was at tonight's Game 1 of the Interior Division Finals between the Vipers & Vees as Vernon defeated Penticton 3-2 in front of 3,118 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Vernon: Darion Hanson
Penticton: Matthew Robson
1st Period: The Vees got the early jump on the Vipers, took control of the game off the opening faceoff. Penticton carried the puck-play early before Steven Jandric beat his defender wide, went around the goal before beating Matthew Robson on the wrap around on the Vipers first shot of the night, giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 3:44 Jandric's goal was unassisted. About a minute and a half later Turner Ripplinger on a Vees odd man rush, had a good look at the net, but couldn't solve Darion Hanson who made a big save shorty after a Viper goal. Just before the halfway mark Gabe Bast's point shot got through traffic in front, beating wich looked like a screened Darion Hanson, as Penticton tied the game 1-1 at 8:09 Grant Cruikshank & Ty Amonte collected the helpers. On the next play-shift the Interior Division regular season champion Penticton Vees would get the games first powerplay, just before the halfway mark. Penticton with just two shots with the man advantage, couldn't capitalize as the Snakes were able to kill off the minor. Less then a minute later Vernon would get their first look with the powerplay. Moving the puck around Chris Jandric brother of Steven Jandric setup former Salmon Arm Silverbacks defenceman Cameron Trott who's shot from the point beat Matthew Robson giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 11:36 on just the Vipers third shot of the evening. Two and a half minutes later the Snakes would head back to the powerplay, but would struggle as the Vees with a solid penalty kill, would kill off the minor. Vernon with just one shot with the man advantage. Darion Hanson was forced to make a quick glove save with about two and a half minutes remaining before stopping Chris Klack about a minute later. Two big stops by the Viper goaltender late in the opening frame. It was 2-1 Vernon after 20 minutes of play. The Vees looked good off the opening faceoff, carried the puck-play early before Steven Jandric opened the scoring just about four minutes in on the Vipers first shot. Vernon with two goals on three shots had some Vees fans wanting Fred Harbinson to pull Matthew Robson. Penticton had more control with the puck, also had more chances but it was Vernon who capitalized on their opportunities. Overall the play was fairly even with the Vees having a slight edge in play at different times through out the period. Penticton outshot Vernon 12-5.
2nd Period: Off the opening faceoff Chris Klack drove to the net hard was denied in close before captain Nicholas Jones couldn't beat Vipers starting goaltender Darion Hanson on the rebound. Two quality chances for Penticton inside the opening minute. Three and a half minutes in Taylor Sanheim with two maybe three good opportunities in tight, couldn't beat Darion Hanson down low as the Snakes netminder was down and out, somehow managed to stop Sanheim from in close. Vernon needed close to four minutes to record their first shot of the period. Shortly after Hunter Zandee dished out a high hit on a Penticton player in the neutral zone. Zandee would take an undisciplined penalty on the play, as the Snakes would lose the former West Kelowna Warriors forward for most of the middle frame after picking up two minutes for a blow to head minor and an automatic ten minute misconduct. The Western Canada Cup Hosts would make Zandee & the Vipers pay after Taylor Ward beat Darion Hanson fivehole with Owen Sillinger at the top of the crease, tying the game 2-2 at 5:46 Ward's goal was unassisted. It looked like Sillinger may have tipped Ward's shot in front but the goal was credited to Ward. Shortly after Duncan Campbell on a great chance from the right side, was denied by Darion Hanson. Shane Kelley's shot on goal with about six minutes remaining, was Vernon's first shot in a good five or six minutes if not longer. Jesse Lansdell forced Vees starting goaltender Matthew Robson into flashing the leather, making a quick glove save off the former Chilliwack Chiefs forward late in the 2nd. With about three and a half minutes left, Darion Hanson come very close to giving up a goal, after coming out behind his goal, fired the puck into the corner where a Penticton player was standing, luckily for Hanson & the Vipers, the Vees were unable to get the puck to the front of the net, as Hanson was forced to try and scramble back into the blue paint. The Snakes would get a late powerplay. Cameron Trott couldn't solve Matthew Robson who made a big blocker save, as Penticton would kill off the minor. Grant Cruikshank & Chris Klack with good opportunities late, couldn't beat Darion Hanson. It was tied 2-2 after 40 minutes of play. This period was definitely owned by the Vees who took it too the Vipers early and often. Penticton got off to a good start, had several quality chances early before tying the game on an early powerplay. The Vees looked very strong, carried most of the play, had control of the puck most of the period, had lots of offensive zone time, only managed one goal. The Vipers on the other hand, were outplayed most of the 2nd period. The Snakes played a lot of minutes in their own end, had troubles getting any kind of offence going. Vernon with very little puck possession, didn't generate-create much for chances. Penticton outshot Vernon 10-8.
3rd Period: The Vipers with a good start, had lots of jump-energy early before Jesse Lansdell spotted Austin Adamson in front who beat Matthew Robson giving Vernon a 3-2 lead at 1:45 Lansdell with the lone assist. Chris Klack down the left wing, had a great chance, couldn't beat Darion Hanson who come up with the large save, keeping this a one goal game. Both teams went back and fourth early but it was Penticton who were getting pucks to the net-generating a little more offensive chances. As the period went along the Vees had some good looks but Darion Hanson covered a lot of net, was smothering pucks all night. At the midway mark, Steven Jandric dropped back to Brett Stapley who was in the slot was denied by Matthew Robson who come out to challenge, made a big stop. The Vees slowly started to take over a slight edge in play come the second half. Penticton were getting pucks to the net, weren't getting a lot of grade a chances as Darion Hanson was seeing almost everything. With about six minutes remaining Shane Kelley's shot from the blueline gave Matthew Robson trouble, as the first year Vees goaltender juggled the point shot, making things look difficult. Brett Stapley come within inches of giving Vernon a two goal lead, beat Robson high glove side, with about 5:25 remaining rang his shot off the crossbar. The Vees would get Matthew Robson to the bench with about 1:40ish remaining for the extra attacker, pressing hard Penticton was pouring it on late. A few good looks, and some scrambles in and around the goal before Copper Watson took an undisciplined penalty with fifty eight seconds to go. The Vees with a late powerplay, would call a timeout before moving the puck around. A shot-or pass from the right side was put towards the front of the goal, where it looked like captain Nicholas Jones beat Darion Hanson who couldn't get across the crease in time, tying the game with 34.4 seconds remaining, sending the SEOC into a frenzy. But the goal was emmediately waived off. Darion Hanson emmediately was waiving his arms after the puck went in, saying it went in with a high stick. Both referee's and linesmen gathered in front of the penalty box and after a lengthy discussion the goal was waived off due to a high stick. Fans went nuts yelling and screaming at the referee's. Penticton still on the powerplay, got the play deep into the Vernon zone, and once again moved the puck around, getting some good looks, just missed the net short side twice, coming again close to tying the game. A late goal mouth scramble, forced Darion Hanson to come way out of the blue paint, to smother the loose puck, stopping play with 1.6 seconds remaining before a huge scrum formed with everyone getting involved. Lots of pushing and shoving, with several punches thrown. Captain Riley Brandt was tossed from the game, while the Vees would get a very short two man advantage with just 1.6 seconds left as fans started making their way to the exits. The Vipers would hold on and excape the final push from the Vees to take Game one of the Interior Division Finals 3-2. The Viper bench erupted off the bench to come celebrate with Darion Hanson. A huge goal less then two minutes into the final frame by Austin Adamson was the game winner. I thought both teams were very evenly matched early, as the play with back and fourth. But it was Penticton who slowly started to take over the edge in play in the second half, and carried the better of the puck-play. The Vees had some good looks-chances but didn't get any real grade a chances. Darion Hanson was solid between the pipes in the final twenty minutes, was seeing almost everything, smothering the puck-not giving up any second opportunities. The Viper defence did a great job at keeping Penticton to the outside-limiting their chances. I couldn't see-tell if the Vees third goal was put in with a high stick. It was close but from where I was sitting, I didn't get a great look. Even watching the replay on the jumbo tron, you couldn't really get a good look on the goal-play. Penticton outshot Vernon 16-10.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Michael Ufberg I thought played very well defensively. Ufberg didn't jump up into the play-join the rush as often as he does, stayed back, playing very well defensively.
Cameron Trott (1 goal) I thought had a strong night, scored on the powerplay, was very good at both ends of the rink. A big addition to the Viper roster in a trade with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks this year.
Austin Adamson (1 goal) Scored the game winner, just 1:45 into the final frame, was very good-strong down low. Made some smart heads up plays down low-in and around the net.
Hunter Zandee Other then taking his undisciplined penalty in the 2nd period, I thought was a huge spark for the Snakes. Was skating hard, played with a ton of jump/energy, really taking the body-being physical, finishing his checks.
Jesse Lansdell (1 assist) I thought played very well, picking up an assist, made some smart plays through out the win.
Steven Jandric (1 goal) Opened the scoring for Vernon, I thought played hard. Had a heck of a game. Come to play and lead by example. Was skating hard, driving to the net, worked-competed, played with lots of jump-energy, was really moving the puck, creating-generating offensive chances.
Darion Hanson (36 saves) Was solid between the pipes for the Vipers. Was forced to make some of his biggest saves in the middle frame, made some big stops in that 2nd period, looked calm & confident, especially in that 3rd period. The veteran goaltender was seeing almost everything, was smothering pucks, wasn't really forced into making any heroic saves in the final twenty minutes, made the saves when called apon.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
After having the past week off the Vipers come into Penticton and pick up a huge 3-2 victory in Game 1 of the Interior Division Finals. In a building where the Snakes have had their troubles in over the past few seasons, the Vipers get their third win in six games this year at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Overall I thought the Vees had more of an edge in play but it was Vernon who capitalized on their chances early, didn't get a lot of lengthy zone time, played very well defensively. I thought the Viper defence did a great job at keeping Penticton to the outside, limiting the Vees chances, made things look easy at times for Darion Hanson who was seeing a lot of the Vees shots. Other then two undisciplined penalties I thought the Vipers kept their cool & emotions in check for most of the night. I thought Vernon held their own in the opening period, didn't get as many chances as Penticton but took a 2-1 lead into the 2nd period. It was the middle frame where the Snakes struggled, gave up way too many opportunities, were very lucky to only give up the lone powerplay goal, were tied heading into the 3rd. In the final frame I thought the Vipers held their own in the first half before the Vees started coming on-pressing in the second half. Did Vernon sit back on a one goal lead? Or did Penticton just take their game to another level? The Snakes were under pressure in the final minutes, may have caught a break-got lucky, hung on for the one goal victory. A very nervous final two minutes with the Vees pressing and then the game tying goal waived off. Made for a wild final finish. Overall this was a very exciting and entertaining hockey game. Nice to see a fairly decent turnout of Viper fans tonight. This was the Vipers first playoff win in Penticton, since a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 7 of the 2014 Interior Division Finals.
Top Player's: (Penticton)
Gabe Bast (1 goal) I thought was one of Penticton's better players in the loss. Bast has missed a lot of the season, due to injury, was very strong-effective at both ends of the rink. Made some smart heads up plays, was good with and without the puck, gave the Vipers troubles.
Chris Klack I thought had a strong game, was involved in the play a lot, seemed to create-generate some great quality chances, really sees/reads the ice well. A good smooth skater, was dangerous with and without the puck.
Duncan Campbell Played well in spurts. I didn't think was noticeable all the time, but had some good looks-chances in the game.
Taylor Sanheim Was another Vees player who looked good at times. Had at least two-maybe three quality chances in close, early in the middle frame, couldn't solve Darion Hanson. Sanheim is a player Penticton is going to need to step up his play-get more involved in the play, try and generate-create more offensive chances. This kid can be dangerous and give Vernon defenders trouble.
Game Thought's: (Penticton)
After coming off a huge emotional 6-2 victory in Game 7 of the Interior Division semifinals vs the Merritt Centennials, the Vees come into action tonight, having just three days off. I thought Penticton controlled more of the play, had the better chances, had more of an edge in play, couldn't get that bounce. The Vees had some good quality chances, couldn't bury their opportunities. For most of the night the Vees were hit and hit often, as Vernon played a very physical game, taking the body-finishing their checks. Penticton had some very close chances, could have easily tied this hockey game. Penticton fans will be arguing-complaining over the game tying goal with 34.4 seconds that was waived off. This goal will be the talk of the night. The Vees never really had the Snakes on the ropes until the final minute or two, when pressing hard for the tying goal. Penticton was always down and chasing Vernon, as the Vipers played with the lead all night. The Vees need to try and get more traffic in front of Darion Hanson, try and go to the grey area, get in his face-get him off his game. Penticton needs to play with a little more grit. I don't think Matthew Robson could be blamed for any of the Viper goals, but I think Robson needs to make a save one or two of these, especially early in the hockey game when the Vipers scored twice on just three shots. I've seen Robson play the Vipers in all seven regular season games and I think one out of the two pre-season games and at times, this kid looks shaky-gives up a soft goal. There's been a few games where the Vees needed a save, and just didn't get it. In years past the Vees have had that veteran goaltender that makes those big saves-is hard to beat night in and night out, this year I don't think Robson is that guy. I also think and have said it all season, Penticton for the first time in a few years is beatable this year. Don't get me wrong, the Vees have a very good hockey team but not as strong-dominate as in years past. I have seen this years Vees lose games, they would have never lost in past years. I thought the Vipers played Penticton very well this season and kept up with the Vees in those seven games. At one point in the regular season, Vernon was only four or six points behind Penticton for the Division lead. Give the City of Penticton and their fans a huge pat on the back, for getting over 3,100 people out for tonight's game. What a great rink and great atmosphere.
Energy Player of the Game:
1st Star: Darion Hanson (36 saves)
2nd Star: Gabe Bast (1 goal)
3rd Star: Steven Jandric (1 goal)
Fraser Rodger's Penticton Vees Blog,