I have had season tickets for 29 years and been following junior hockey in Vernon for over thirty five years. I haven't missed a Vipers home game in nine years and only missed three Vipers home games since the 1998-99 season. For anyone who couldn't attend or watch tonight's game online, here are my thought's and view's from tonight's game. You may agree or disagree but we all have our own opinion on the game. I try to be unbiased and give a fare game recap from both sides. Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog.
I was at tonight's Vipers-Vees game as Penticton defeated Vernon 3-2 in overtime in front of 1,618 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Aidan Porter
Penticton: Jack LaFontaine
1st Period: The Vees took control of the game off the opening puck drop, had the early puck possession but it was the Vipers who would get the games first quality chance. About three and a half minutes in Viper captain Jagger Williamson setup Sebastian Streu who let go a shot from the circle couldn't beat Jack LaFontaine five hole. About two minutes later Aidan Porter come out of his crease to play the puck, turned the puck over behind the goal. Former Trail Smoke Eater Andre Ghantous on the turnover couldn't hit the open cage as Porter rushed back in the nick of time on a close call for the Snakes. A few minutes later Jagger Williamson was hauled down on his way to the goal, crashed into Jack LaFontaine, who come out of the blue paint to make the save. Williamson and LaFontaine got tangled up together. Williamson got up but it was the Vees goaltender who stayed down and looked to be in some kind of discomfort. LaFontaine was looked at by the trainer, would be ok and stayed in the contest. A nice gesture from the Viper captain, gave LaFontaine a tap on the pads letting him know he was sorry about the collision, while LaFontaine returned the favor, giving Williamson a tap on the back end. Off the next faceoff Penticton would get the games first powerplay. The Vees with only three shots didn't get a lot of pressure on the man advantage as the Vipers with a strong penalty kill, killed off the minor. Just past the halfway mark, Landon Fuller with a quick shot along the ice, forced Jack LaFontaine into making a big pad save, couldn't control the rebound before Sebastian Streu was denied on the second opportunity. Shortly after Vernon would get their first PP of the night. Ben Sanderson with a grade a chance would be stopped by Jack LaFontaine who made his biggest stop of the opening period. The Vipers with a flurry of chances couldn't capitalize. The Vees would kill off the minor. The Snakes seemed to build off the powerplay and gain some momentum would get a flurry of chances in and around the goal. The Vees didn't record a shot on goal in the second half. It was 0-0 after 20 minutes of play. I thought the visitors were the better team in the first half, had more puck possession but the Vipers had the better of the scoring chances. Vernon got their game going and played much better in the second half, carried the edge in play, had several looks/opportunities, couldn't get any bounces go their way. Jack LaFontaine was giving up a ton of rebounds but otherwise was solid between the pipes for the Vees. Vernon outshot Penticton 11-8.
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The Vees jumped on the Snakes early and often as it looked like Penticton was on an early powerplay. A quick shot from the point just seconds into the middle frame, forced Vernon Vipers starting goaltender Aidan Porter into making a difficult save with bodies in front. The Vees with a ton of pressure, were getting pucks to the net early and often, had lots of pressure down low. Aidan Porter had to be sharp early after somehow keeping the puck out on a goal mouth scramble. Landon Fuller who returned to the Viper lineup after playing with the Vancouver Giants Friday night come very close to closing his hand on the puck in the blue paint. Fuller was given a minor for delay of game, giving the Penticton Vees an early powerplay. Penticton needed just thirty one seconds to capitalize. James Miller with a howitzer from the blueline beat Aidan Porter giving Penticton a 1-0 lead at 2:47 Massimo Rizzo and Eric Linell collected the assists. The Vipers with a strong push back, tied the game less then a minute later. Jack Judson setup Ben Sanderson tying the game 1-1 at 3:27 Judson & Coleton Bilodeau drew the helpers. On the following play the Vees went back to the powerplay. Vernon with a strong kill got two big blocks from Jagger Williamson. Luke Loheit in the dying seconds cut hard towards the goal, got in behind the Viper defenders fired high and over the goal, on a missed opportunity before Cassidy Bowes looked to beat Aidan Porter but hit the post with just seconds remaining on the man advantage. The Vipers escape and killed off the minor. Jagger Williamson was attended to by the trainer on the bench, made his way to the dressing room. Williamson would return minutes later before heading back to the dressing room. The Viper captain would return, saw a quick shift, looked to be in some discomfort returned to the bench. Williamson stayed in the game but saw limited ice time for the remainder of the period. Just before the midway mark a shot took a funny bounce off the side wall, shot straight across the ice in front of the Vees goal to a wide open Josh Latta who was robbed by a stretched out Jack LaFontaine who come across the crease to make an almost impossible stop in close. Vernon would get a late PP with about five minutes left but struggled on the man advantage. The Snakes looked very disorganised with the extra attacker. Vees leading scorer David Silye took advantage, wheeled in shorthanded but couldn't beat Aidan Porter. A big stop from the Vernon netminder. The Vipers looked out of sink blew this powerplay. The Snakes would get a late powerplay to finish the period with ten seconds left. It was 1-1 after 40 minutes of play. Penticton looked hungry, jumped on the Vernon Vipers early and often at the start of the middle frame. The Vees with a ton of pressure early had two quality chances before opening the scoring on the man advantage. The Vipers responded quickly tying the game 1:40 later. I thought Penticton was the better team in the first half, had more puck possession, zone time and the better of the chances. The Vipers played better late in the second half, come on towards the end of the period, getting some looks-opportunities in the final few minutes. Vernon outshot Penticton 12-9.
3rd Period: The Vipers started the frame on the man advantage that was carried over from the 2nd period. Jack Judson setup Sebastian Streu giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 1:40 their first lead of the night. Judson & Alex Swetlikoff picked up the assists. This goal seemed to boost the Snakes as Vernon carried the better of the play. The Vipers playing dump and chase early, keeping the shifts short, limiting Penticton's time and space. Vernon outshooting Penticton 6-1 just six minutes into the final frame had full control of the game early. Just before the halfway mark the Vees would jump on the powerplay. But shorthanded former Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Josh Latta with a strong individual effort in the attacking zone, beat his defender one on one before cutting hard towards the goal. Latta would get in close on the parcial breakaway couldn't beat Vees starting goaltender Jack LaFontaine. LaFontaine with a big stop shorthanded. Towards the end of the powerplay, Connor Marritt setup Alex Swetlikoff on a two on one rush, but once again Jack LaFontaine with another large stop in close, keeping this a one goal game. Vernon able to create/generate two shorthanded opportunities, would get a big kill on the PK killed off the minor. With just over six minutes remaining the Vipers with an undisciplined penalty would send the Vees back to the powerplay. Eric Linell spotted a wide open Ryan Sandelin in front, beat Aidan Porter five hole tying the game 2-2 at 14:23 as the Vees bench erupted. Linell & James Miller drew the assists. This goal gave the Vees life and momentum and a big change in the game. This goal was a killer for the Snakes, who weren't the same team. Penticton slowly started to take over the game/period and now was the team looking for the game winner. The Vees playing with a ton more confidence, were playing with speed and skill, were now carrying the play, had full puck possession and in the attacking zone. The Vees with some looks now and again were on the move, while Vernon had troubles gaining control of the puck/play as it was all Penticton towards the end of the period. With about four minutes left in the period Mitch Andres shoved recently acquired Kelvin Hair into the corner boards. Hair looked to lose an edge going down, stayed down before being attended too by a trainer. Hair left the game and didn't return while Andres was given a five minute major and tossed from the hockey game for boarding. The Vees would get several looks/a few chances but unable to capitalize with the man advantage. Fred Harbinson would call a late timeout but the Vees would run out of time as the Vipers with a strong penalty kill to end the 3rd. It was 2-2 after 60 minutes of play. The Snakes were in full control of the hockey game for most of the frame. The Vipers had the puck most of the period, took away Penticton's time and space. The Vees couldn't get full control of the play/or puck, struggled offensively. The Vees didn't have much puck possession, were chasing the puck on Vernon's dump and chase, then had troubles breaking through the neutral zone. I thought Vernon was the better team, played a very solid, shutdown 3rd period until getting into penalty trouble. The Vipers with three straight penalties, allowed Penticton to tie the game with just over five minutes remaining. The Vees gained momentum and changed the flow of the game. It was all Penticton in the final five-six minutes. The Vipers with a big penalty kill late, earned themselves at least a point. Jagger Williamson was on the bench to start the 3rd left the bench and didn't return for the remainder of the game. Shots were 10-10.
Overtime: Aidan Porter was forced to make a difficult save off James Miller early into the extra period before Eric Linell had all day to shoot/beat Aidan Porter from the point, giving Penticton a 3-2 overtime victory at 0:32 as the Vees bench erupted onto the ice. James Miller drew the lone helper. Penticton outshot Vernon 2-0.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Michael Young I thought played well on the Vernon defence.
Ben Sanderson (1 goal) Was very shifty this evening. Really showed off his speed and skill at times. Created/generated a few opportunities in the loss.
Jack Judson (2 assists) Was another Viper defender who I thought played well. Picked up two assists, leads the team in scoring.
Trey Taylor was given the confidence, saw a regular shift vs the Vees, was even on the ice in overtime. I thought played well on the backend.
Sebastian Streu (1 goal) Was very good. Had some looks/chances, looked good through out the contest. Streu now has (4-goals-2-assists-6-points) in eight games with the Vipers.
Elan Bar-Lev-Wise Showed a ton of hustle and strong work ethic, played hard tonight. Was strong on the forecheck, was trying to make things happen, I thought really skated hard.
Aidan Porter (26 saves) I don't think was tested as much as Jack LaFontaine but played well between the pipes for the Snakes. Kelowna Chiefs goaltender Braeden Mitchell "AP" was Porter's backup tonight.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
I thought the Vipers played hard and well for most of the game. I thought the Vees were the better of the two teams in the first half of the opening period but the Snakes had the better opportunities. I thought Penticton was the better team in the first half in the middle frame but Vernon seemed to reply back and play a bit better towards the end of the 2nd period. I really liked the Vipers start to the 3rd period. Capitalizing on an early powerplay, then played very well with the one goal lead for most of the period until getting into penalty trouble. I didn't like/agree with Teddy Wooding's tripping penalty. A soft call but the Vipers managed to kill it off. On that penalty kill, the Snakes had two glorious chances shorthanded couldn't capitalize on either. This was one of a few turning points. If the Vipers score on at least one, its now 3-1 with about half the period left. The Vipers don't score then take two undisciplined penalties in the last six minutes, give up the game tying goal before giving up the overtime winner. I thought this was Vernon's game to win. "A" As long as they could hold onto the lead. "B" The Vipers have had troubles holding leads in the 3rd period, especially late. Vernon really needed that third goal-insurance goal to put them over the top. And "C" the Vipers had the better of the scoring chances tonight, couldn't capitalize/or bury their opportunities. The Vipers have had troubles scoring all season and it showed again tonight. On most night's it seems like Vernon can only manage one-two goals a game, sometimes three. If the team cant score, they really need to find ways on how to defend better and play better with the lead, especially late in 3rd periods. "D" The Vipers need to play with a little more consistency and close to sixty minutes. The Snakes are now 0-5 in overtime this year and 0-2 in the shootout. Take those seven points they have given away, add them into the win column and the Vipers would 1st in the division, three points up on West Kelowna & Merritt and second overall in the league, just four points back of Chilliwack. Other then a few lapses, breakdowns and late undisciplined penalties in the 3rd I liked the Vipers overall game. I thought they held their own against the Vees at times and could have pulled away if being able to capitalize on a few of their chances. I read online Jagger Williamson left the game with maybe a broken arm. Since the 2011-12 regular season the Vipers are 12-29-3-5 vs Penticton. The Vipers now have at least a point in eight of their last nine games, have just two wins in their last seven games and six wins in their last eighteen games. Vernon hits the road for a four game road trip starting Friday in Merritt. Three of the four road games are vs three of the top three teams in the Interior division. This will be a big test for the Vipers who only have three wins away from home this year. With the overtime loss the Vipers gain a point and move into sole possession of 5th place with a record of 8-6-5-2 are three points up on Trail, one point up on Wenatchee, two points back of Penticton & Salmon Arm and four points back of West Kelowna & Merritt. Former Vernon Lakers forward Rylan Ferster was in the building tonight as was former Vernon Lakers forward/Vernon Vipers head coach/gm Troy Mick.
Top Player's: (Penticton)
Eric Linell (1 goal & 2 assists) Scored the overtime winner giving the Vees the come from behind victory. Even before the OT winner I thought the former Coquitlam Express & Surrey Eagle had a strong game. Was in on the rush/play, played well defensively, had a very good night at both ends of the rink.
Luke Loheit Caught my attention and I thought had a good game on the road. Had some looks/chances, has some wheels, made things happen in a hurry. Gave the Viper defenders troubles at times.
David Silye The Penticton Vees leading scorer played well at times though out the evening. Looked to get better as the game went on. Has some skill and quick feet.
Mason Snell I thought was strong on the Vees blueline. Very steady through out the night.
James Miller (1 goal & 2 assists) Opened the scoring, setup the game tying goal and then the overtime winning goal. I really like this kid, seems to play well against the Snakes. Reads/sees the ice well. A good puck moving defenceman that has a quick shot.
Cassidy Bowes Rang a shot off the post in the final seconds of a 2nd period powerplay, had some looks at the net through out the night. Strong on his feet, has good patience in and around the net. Bowes has decided to grow out his hair this season and raise money for cancer research. For more on the story, click on the link below
Jack LaFontaine (31 saves) Was the busier of the two goaltenders, was having troubles controlling his rebounds in the opening frame, seemed to settle down as the game went on. Likes to move around and get out of the blue paint often, is very active with the puck. A bigger netminder covers a lot of the net, made some big stops through out the contest, keeping his team in the game. Two large stops in the 3rd on a Vees powerplay, kept the score at 2-1. This could have been a different outcome if it wasn't for LaFontaine.
Game Thought's: (Penticton)
It looked like the Penticton Vees were going to drop their second straight 2-1 game in Vernon this season until Ryan Sandelin's game tying powerplay goal at 14:23 of the 3rd period. The last time the Vees were in town Vernon hung on for the 2-1 victory October 6th. I liked Penticton's starts, especially in the opening frame and middle frame. I thought the Vees held early possession may have not got the chances/opportunities they wanted in the 1st period but had several good looks/opportunities off the opening puck drop to start the 2nd period. The Vees just like the Vipers played well at times and also ran into trouble at times. Overall this was a very entertaining hockey game with two teams battling hard for the third time this season. I thought the Vernon Vipers had the better of the chances tonight as the momentum changed hands on several occasions. Jack LaFontaine battled out his mates often after coming up large also got some help from his defenders. The turning point was towards the end of the 3rd with the Vipers taking two late undisciplined penalties, allowing the Vees to tie the game on the powerplay and then win the game in overtime on the five minute major. All three Penticton goals were scored on the man advantage, as the Vees went 3-6 on the PP. The Vees snap a two game losing streak in Vernon, have two wins in their last six visits to Kal Tire Place. Since the 2011-12 regular season Penticton is 16-6-1-0 in Vernon. This was just the Vees second win in their last six road games. Penticton has won three of their last five are 5-5 in their last ten games. The Vees wearing their new third jersey's this evening improve to 11-6-1-2 sit 4th in the division tied in points with Salmon Arm are two points up on Vernon and two points back of West Kelowna & Merritt. A very tight race in the Interior Division, sees the Vees in 4th normally are sitting atop the division with a bit of a comfy lead this time of year in past seasons.
Jesse Lansdell (Suspended)
Energy Player of the Game:
Ben Sanderson (1 goal)
1st Star: Eric Linell (1 goal & 2 assists)
2nd Star: Sebastian Streu (1 goal)
3rd Star: James Miller (1 goal & 2 assists)