I was at Game 6 of the Interior Division Finals between the Vipers & Vees as Vernon defeated Penticton 5-1 in front of 3,158 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Darion Hanson
Penticton: Matthew Robson
1st Period: Inside the opening minute the Vipers rushed the net on an odd man rush forcing the puck up the middle couldn't connect on the pass before getting an early powerplay just over a minute into the contest. On the man advantage Cameron Trott's shot-pass was tipped on it's way to the goal by Steven Jandric giving Vernon the 1-0 lead at 2:15 Trott & Chris Jandric picked up the assists. About a minute and a half later the Snakes would head back to the powerplay but this time struggled getting pucks to the net. Penticton with a very strong penalty kill, took away the shooting lanes-kept Vernon to the outside would kill off the minor. Just before the halfway mark the Vees would get their first look with the powerplay. Grant Cruikshank at the side of the net beat Darion Hanson as the puck come up and over the Viper goaltender before just going high and over the net. On the same play-shift the Vees got the puck back to the slot before a Gabe Bast shot would hit someone on the way to the goal, once again take a weird bounce going up and over the goal. Penticton come close to tying the game, unable to capitalize on the PP. Shortly after the penalty expired, Michael Ufberg come back the other way, ripped a hard low shot from the blueline that forced Matthew Robson into making a huge pad save with bodies in front on a shot I don't think the Vees netminder saw. It was 1-0 Vernon after 20 minutes of play. With the Vipers fighting for their playoff lives, Vernon come out strong early would capitalize on an early powerplay, getting the games first goal. This goal was huge, it got the Snakes in the game early, got the crowd into the game and took the Vees off their game a bit. I thought the Vipers were the better team in the first half, carried a bit more of the play, while the Vees seemed to pick up their game in the second half, played-looked much better in the second half. Penticton with just one shot in the second half. Vernon outshot Penticton 11-5.
2nd Period: Just twenty six seconds into the 2nd Jimmy Lambert split the defence before getting in close for the parcial breakaway was stopped by Matthew Robson who made a big stop inside the opening minute. Five minutes into the middle frame Gabe Bast's shot from the point found it's way through traffic was stopped by Vipers starting goaltender Darion Hanson, who come up with the big pad save off a shot I don't think he saw. Hanson made at least two maybe three saves I don't think he saw, but the puck ended up just hitting him. With the Snakes on the forecheck, Cooper Watson jumped into the play down low, took a shot from the goal line somehow beat Vees starting goaltender Matthew Robson who was down but tight against the post. Vernon with a 2-0 lead at 6:40 Watson's goal was unassisted. Robson looked stunned as the Vipers scored, looking behind him for the puck. Just sixteen seconds later the Vipers on an odd man rush. Ryan Brushett setup Niko Karamanis giving Vernon a 3-0 lead at 6:56 Brushett and Austin Adamson with the assists. Kal Tire Place was going nuts. Four minutes later Taylor Ward took a high stick was bleeding, sending the Vees to the powerplay. Penticton looked lifeless with the man advantage, couldn't seem to muster any kind of offence. Captain Riley Brandt blocked a shot was very slow getting up, was in major discomfort, finished his shift before slowly limping off the ice, made his way to the Viper dressing room. Brandt would return to the bench minutes later and stay in the game. With just seconds left in the man advantage James Miller point shot was pulled out of the air after a quick glove save from Darion Hanson as the Snakes easily killed off the penalty. Just after the penalty expired, former West Kelowna Warriors forward Hunter Zandee with a burst of speed, made some nice moves, going to the net was denied by Matthew Robson. The Vees responded with a good push back. Shortly after with a ton of pressure-zone time Jonny Tychonick jumped into the high slot, was alone wired his shot just wide of the goal on a missed opportunity. Tychonick stayed with the puck-play, would gather the puck for a second time, this time around walked in before being stopped by Darion Hanson. Tychonick with back to back quality chances. Cooper Watson took a slash on the wrist-hand from Taylor Sanheim, Watson let Sanheim know. Watson was hot-fired up in between whistles talking to the referee. Late in the frame former Vipers defenceman Mitch Meek walked in from the point, roofed his shot high glove over Darion Hanson cutting the Vernon lead to 3-1 at 17:11 Nicholas Jones & Ty Amonte with the helpers. Riley Brandt took a slash from Gabe Bast at the buzzer, Brandt took acception going after Bast as the two got in each others face before being separated by the linesmen. It was 3-1 Vernon after 40 minutes of play. The Vees had a few good looks-opportunities early, couldn't get a break-bounce before the Smakes would get two quick back to back goals just sixteen seconds apart. I thought Vernon had a slight edge in the first half but Penticton really turned things around-stepped up their play in the second half. The Vees took it to the Vipers often, dominated most of the play in the second half. Penticton with several good chances, couldn't solve Darion Hanson-catch a break. Penticton outshot Vernon 17-12.
3rd Period: Off the opening draw, Mitch Meek's shot from the blueline was stopped by Darion Hanson with traffic in front. On the following shift-play, Meek fired another shot from the point that a Viper player jumped up tried knocking down, but instead deflected the puck up into the air going over the head of Darion Hanson and just over the Viper goal. The Vees come out hard, pressing hard, Penticton poured on the attack early and often. The Vipers hemmed in their own end, had all kinds of troubles getting out of their own end. Riley Brandt basically playing on one leg, was seeing a regular shift, was more a liability then helping his team. Brandt looked to be in a lot of discomfort could hardly skate-move. Connor Clouston then took a shot off the skate, went down, was in some pain before grimising on his way to the bench. Clouston was ok, stayed in the game. The Vees either just missing the net, had some good looks-opportunities, couldn't solve Darion Hanson who was lucky at times, making saves I don't think he saw. In the second half Penticton would jump on the powerplay, had some good looks-chances. Taylor Sanheim with a great chance in tight, was denied by Darion Hanson on a big stop from the top of the crease. The Vees would get Matthew Robson to the bench for the extra attacker with 6:33 remaining and still on the powerplay. Gabe Bast couldn't handle the puck, allowed Jimmy Lambert to spin and fire from his own end, hit the open cage giving Vernon a 4-1 lead and basically in control of the game at 14:19 Shane Kelly with the helper. This sending several fans who started making their way for the exits. The Vipers would kill off the remainder of the minor. Less then four minutes later Jagger Williamson sent Jesse Lansdell in who made a nice move in close, put a nice move on Matthew Robson giving Vernon a commanding 5-1 lead at 17:59 Williamson drew the assist. With the Snakes celebrating Mitch Meek skated over either said something or did something wich started a scrum as some pushing and shoving occurred, before Meek was sent to the ice and everyone minus the goaltenders jumped in. Duncan Campbell and Jagger Williamson were in each others faces, while Cooper Watson was man handling Joseph Leahy. Nichoas Jones looked to be pinned up along the boards, as tempers flared up in a hurry. After the scrum-fireworks were broken up Riley Brandy, Connor Clouston & Nicholas Jones were all given ten minute misconducts and tossed from the hockey game. Brandt throwing his arms in the air as he made his way off the ice, trying to fire up the fans. Penticton would come out with a four minute powerplay. But with just thirty seven seconds left, Shane Kelly pushed and then took a big swing at Taylor Sanheim before the two dropped the gloves. This set off fireworks as everyone minus the goaltenders got involved. Hunter Zandee was taking on someone (couldn't see because the linesmen was in the way) while Chris Klack and Chris Jandric also dropped the gloves. Kal Tire Place was loving this as the fans near the fights, were all standing up against the end glass. After a very lengthy delay Chris Jandric, Shane Kelly, Taylor Sanheim & Chris Klack all would get ejected from the game and all given game misconducts. I have no idea how Hunter Zandee and who ever he was fighting, didn't get kicked out-or either at least get a penalty. In between the stoppage a Viper fan was up against the glass behind the Vees bench, exchanging words with the Penticton bench. Several Vees players were chirping back and fourth with the fellow before the fan was kicked out. At the final buzzer two Vipers raced towards the Penticton bench, as two linesmen rushed in pulling them back. I think they were looking for the game puck, that maybe the Vees gathered up at the end of the game. In the end the Snakes would come away with a convincing 5-1 victory to force Game 7 in Penticton. Down two goals heading into the final frame, the Vees come out hard, started the 3rd how they ended the 2nd period. Penticton pressed and poured on the pressure with a ton of zone time, had Vernon hemmed in their own end for most of the entire period. It was all Vees as they basically dominated the play. The Vipers with very little puck possession, saw very little time with the puck, played most of the 3rd in their own end. Penticton had several quality chances, couldn't solve Darion Hanson. The Vees also didn't catch any breaks, couldn't get a bounce, missed some close shots from in close. A wild final two minutes with all the fireworks. Tempers boiled over in the final two minutes as these two teams don't like each other. The Vipers trying to flex their muscle while the Vees not backing down, trying to send a message for Game 7. Penticton outshot Vernon 16-7.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Cooper Watson (1 goal) I thought had a heck of a game. Scored the game winner, while also playing physical-hard nosed.
The #1 unit of Brett Stapley, Steven Jandric (1 goal) & Jimmy Lambert (1 goal) Was very dangerous all night. This line has been hot and cold through out the series, come ready to battle-play this evening. Jandric was really skating hard, battled hard down low and in and around the net, while Lambert played his best game of the series. Stepped up his game, was flying all night, made some teriffic moves to create-generate opportunities. Really forced the play, was strong with the puck, hard to defend against. Gave the Vees defenders trouble all night.
Hunter Zandee Hasn't done much offensively this series, was another Viper who elevated his game tonight, was flying, played with a ton of energy/jump, created-generated opportunities, was skating circles around several Penticton players.
Niko Karamanis (1 goal) I thought did a lot of the little things in behind the play, won battles, races for the puck, tied guys up down low, played smart. Used his speed to win a lot of races.
Darion Hanson (37 saves) Made some big stops but also got lucky at times, made several saves I don't think he even saw. Didn't give up a lot of rebounds-second opportunities, got lots of help from his defence, who blocked a lot of shots, got sticks in the way, closed the shooting lanes. Hanson looked calm and confident between the pipes.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
In a must win situation I thought the Vipers were ready to play and played hard. Opening the scoring-getting on the board first was huge and then playing well with the lead was key. I thought Vernon looked/played very well in the 1st and half of the 2nd periods. How big were those two quick back to back goals just sixteen seconds apart? A huge game breaker/momentum changer. This now gives Vernon a nice 3-0 lead at this point. But shortly after is when things slowly start to fall apart. The Snakes end up having to kill off a powerplay, wich they do but then the Vees respond with a strong push back and press hard for most of the remainder of that 2nd period. A late goal from former Viper Mitch Meek, gets the Vees back in the game and within two goals heading into the 3rd. In the 3rd the Vipers are heavily outmatched and outplayed, are hemmed in their own end for most of the 3rd, are just hanging on until Jimmy Lambert's empty netter basically puts the game away and gives the fans a huge sigh of relief. Don't get me wrong I thought the Snakes played hard-battled, blocked a lot of shots, used their sticks to get in the way, but also got very lucky on several Penticton scoring chances. Darion Hanson was very good but also very lucky at times. The Vipers looked tired in the 3rd. Vernon made several mistakes-turnovers in their own end in that final twenty minutes were very lucky, the puck didn't end up in the back of their own net. Jagger Williamson and Riley Brandt both looked worn down-pretty banged up but still took a regular shift. Give the Vipers full credit for coming ready to play and ready to battle. Vernon emptied the tanks in a must win situation with their season on the line. A gutsy performance-effort. Why was Riley Brandt playing in the 3rd? He could barely skate-move out there. He was more a liability then anything. For the first time in at least six or seven years the Vipers come very close to a sell out. The biggest crowd in many many years. It's been so long I cant recall the last big crowd like tonight. Maybe Game 7 vs Powell River in the Fred Page Cup back in 2009 or 2010? I know it's been a long time. A great turn out! Former Vipers Bryce Kakoske, David Robinson, Troy Cherwinski & Cody Bostock all were in attendance tonight.
Top Player's: (Penticton)
Gabe Bast Who has looked-played very well through out this series, has another strong game in the loss this evening. Carried the puck often, was getting pucks to the net, made some smart plays on the blueline, also likes to try and get under the skin of the Vipers. Was chirping with several different Vernon players.
Mitch Meek (1 goal) I thought had a heck of a game. Was involved in the play, carried the puck, jumped up into the play, was getting pucks to the net, creating-generating opportunities, looked-played very well.
James Miller was another Penticton defenceman that I thought played very well.
Jonny Tychonick Stepped up his game tonight, jumped into the play, had a few good looks-opportunities, was skating hard, played very well. A smooth skating d-man, very crafty at times with and without the puck.
Taylor Sanheim Took a beating in and around the goal, tried to create/generate played well at times.
Game Thought's: (Penticton)
One win away from winning the Interior Division Championship and a trip to the Fred Page Cup the Vees take an early penalty, give up the early powerplay goal, to find them selves down 1-0 early, head back to the penalty kill, are forced to killing off a penalty less then five minutes. Down 1-0 and getting just five shots on net after one period isn't acceptable for Fred Harbinson and his squad. Penticton gives up two quick back to back goals early to start the middle frame, are now down 3-0 and have to try and fight their way back on the road in a building where the home team is very strong on home ice this season. I thought Penticton turned things around-got their game going, gained momentum in the second half of the 2nd period, continued that strong play into the 3rd where they basically dominated the Vipers the final ten minutes or so of the 2nd and close to the entire 3rd period. The Vees had some very good looks in the second half of the 2nd period and in the 3rd couldn't buy a goal, didn't get a bounce-break they needed. Were just missing the net on some plays-chances but also couldn't solve Darion Hanson on the other quality chances. With the Snakes looking tired in the final twenty minutes, the Vees looked to have Vernon on the ropes, couldn't get that next goal to get within one and make a finish. If Penticton scores in that 3rd period and gets to within a goal, I think you see a different outcome. This is when maybe the Vees get that fire in their eyes and smell blood, while the Vipers are now in panic mode with the season on the line, make a few mistakes and the games up for grabs. Give the Vees full credit for battling hard, didn't quit, pressed hard, but just couldn't buy a goal in the end. I didn't think Penticton was at their best tonight, yes they pressed hard, had the better of the play in the second half of the 2nd and most of the 3rd but the Vees still managed to make some mistakes. Fell behind early, Matthew Robson would like the 2nd goal back while the Vees I'm sure would like a better start. The previous two seasons the Vipers and Vees went to game 7 (2014 & 2015) It was the Vipers who had 3-2 series leads in both years. Those two seasons Penticton won both Game 6's in Vernon on the road, before losing the first game 7 at home but coming back the following season to take Game 7 on home ice. This will be the third time in four seasons these two teams will be going to a Game 7. Nice to see several Vees fans make the trip tonight. Just imagine if the Vipers would have won Game 6 last night in Penticton.
Energy Player of the Game:
Niko Karamanis (1 goal)
1st Star: Darion Hanson (37 saves)
2nd Star: Cooper Watson (1 goal)
3rd Star: Mitch Meek (1 goal)
Fraser Rodger's Penticton Vees Blog,
Text Box Score,