I have had season tickets for 29 years and been following junior hockey in Vernon for over thirty five years. I have missed four Vipers home games since 2009 and five Vipers home games since the 2002-03 season. For anyone who couldn't attend or watch this afternoon's Vipers game, here are my thought's and view's from today'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 today's Vipers-Kings game as Vernon defeated Powell River 5-2 in front of 1,782 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Aidan Porter
Powell River: Matteo Paler Chow
1st Period: The Snakes jumped on the visiting Powell River Kings off the opening faceoff. With good pressure in the offensive zone, the Vipers tried setting up Connor Marritt a minute into the period but couldn't connect on his pass in the slot. Vernon kept the play alive before Matt Kowalski spotted Josh Latta in front who beat Matteo Paler Chow giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 1:13 Kowalski and Connor Marritt picked up the assists. The Kings responded with a good push back and applied some pressure of their own over the next minute or two. The Snakes would get the games first powerplay and capitalize. Teddy Wooding gave Vernon a 2-0 lead at 4:17 Ben Sanderson & Brendan Kim drew the helpers. The Vipers with two goals on two shots as Matteo Paler Chow remained in goal for Powell River. Minutes later former Vernon Vipers forward Ryan Brushett with a solid defensive play in his own end, created a turnover, collecting the puck rushed back up ice, setup Mitchell Williams going to the net who redirected the puck just past Aidan Porter and wide of the goal. Minutes later Connor Marritt with a quality chance couldn't beat Matteo Paler Chow. At the halfway mark Vernon product Nick Cherkowski with a solid look-opportunity in front would be denied in close as the Vipers with several good looks-chances in the first half. In the second half Teddy Wooding on a two on one couldn't get his pass across after a big defensive play from one of the Kings defenders broke up Vernon's odd man rush. Matteo Plater Chow was forced to make a quick pad save off a shot from the blueline. Late in the second hald Matteo Paler Chow was forced to make a tough save on a goal mouth scramble, as the Snakes couldn't find the loose puck at the top of the Kings crease. The Kings would get their first look with the man advantage towards the end of the 1st period. The Kings couldnt capitalize before the buzzer. It was 2-0 Vernon after 20 minutes of play. The shots may have not shown it but the Vipers were the better of the two teams. I thought Vernon carried a lot of the play, had a ton more puck possession and a lot of very good chances through out the opening period. The Kings had a few good shifts now and again but didn't have much time with the puck in the offensive zone. The Kings defence was fairly busy, blocking shots or breaking up opportunities. Powell River had a few looks but not many chances. Powell River outshot Vernon 8-7.
2nd Period: The visiting Kings started the middle frame on the PP that was carried over from the 1st period. The Vipers with a very solid penalty kill, would kill off the remainder of the penalty before coming back with a strong push back shift. Michael Young's point shot early into the second period forced Kings starting goaltender Matteo Paler Chow into flashing the leather with a quick glove save. Vernon with some good looks couldn't get the puck through traffic before Vernon product Matt Kowalski with a slick move in close tried setting up a Viper going to the net couldn't get the pass across after a Kings defender made a large defensive play, breaking up the odd man rush. The Kings would get into penalty trouble taking back to back minors and it cost them. Vernon's powerplay was clicking this afternoon and would capitalize on both powerplay's. Former Kelowna Rockets forward and newly acquired Lane Zablocki driving to the net put home his first goal in his Vipers debut, giving Vernon a 3-0 lead at 8:09 Jack Judson & Ben Sanderson collected the helpers. On the second man advantage and just over a minute later, Tyler Ho gives Vernon a 4-0 lead at 9:36 Ben Helgeson drew the lone assist. I thought maybe this was the end of the afternoon for Kings starting goaltender Matteo Paler Chow who remained in goal. In the second half Ben Helgeson and Tyler Ho on a two on one, Helgeson decided to keep and shoot would be denied by Matteo Paler Chow. Late in the period the Snakes couldn't clear the zone allowing Matthew Byrne to rip a rocket from in close beating Vipers starting goaltender Aidan Porter cutting the Vernon lead to 4-1 at 17:38 Josh Coblenz with the only assist. Inside the final minute the Vipers would get a late PP that would be carried into the 3rd period. It was 4-1 Vernon after 40 minutes of play. The Vipers carried a lot of the play but didn't get as many chances as they did in the opening frame. Vernon capitalized with the man advantage, scoring two powerplay goals, jumping out to a four goal lead, was a big blow to the Kings. Powell River for a second straight period the Kings weren't much of a threat on offence, didn't have a lot of time in the offensive zone. Vernon outshot Powell River 9-8.
3rd Period: Vernon started the final period on the man advantage that was carried over from the end of the 2nd period. The Snakes unable to capitalize had some looks as PR killed off the minor. Just over five minutes in the Vipers would get called with too many men on the ice, on a soft call giving the Powell River Kings just their second powerplay of the contest. The Kings struggled with the PP as Vernon killed off the penalty. Powell River went back to the powerplay just over a minute later. Shorthanded Teddy Wooding with a burst of speed tried racing down the puck, Matteo Paler Chow come out of the blue paint to play the puck, coughed up the puck. Wooding through the puck towards the Kings netminder as he was backing into his crease as the puck went in and off Matteo Paler Chow's pad-skates and into the back of the goal, giving Vernon a commanding 5-1 lead at 10:13 Wooding's goal was unassisted. The Kings come back with a few good looks on the powerplay but Aidan Porter made two big saves as the Vipers were able to kill off the remainder of the minor. Just as the penalty expired Ryan Pouliot took a swing at Matt Kowalski behind the Kings net. Some pushing and shoving occurred before a minor scrum broke loose with everyone getting involved. Kowalski took a shot towards the scrum before being sent to the sin bin. Pouliot would be complaining to the referee with a cut on his nose before being tossed from the hockey game after picking up a ten minute misconduct. A big jeer from the Viper faithful as Pouliot made his way to the Kings dressing room. Both teams playing at even strength before Mitchell Williams carried the play into the Vernon zone before ripping a lazer of a shot from in close beat Aidan Porter high hitting the water bottle off the back of the net, cutting the Vernon lead to 5-2 at 13:01 Rowan Miller with the lone assist. Shortly after Elan Bar-Lev-Wise on a parcial breakaway couldn't beat Matteo Paler Chow in close. Minutes later on a three way passing play, Teddy Wooding redirected his shot just wide of the open cage. Shortly after Connor Marritt with a quality chance in close couldn't solve Matteo Paler Chow. With four minutes remaining Ethan Schmunk beat Aidan Porter before ripping his shot off the post and out as the Kings come close to getting within two goals. The Snakes with a ton of pressure late had the Kings back on their heels. Vernon with several good looks-opportunities had Matteo Paler Chow scrambling around in the Powell River net. Inside the final two minutes the Vipers would jump on a late PP but just over a minute later and with twenty five seconds remaining Vernon would take a penalty of their own, sending both teams to four on four. Vernon would wind down the clock and come away with the 5-2 victory. It was all Vipers as the Snakes basically carried the majority of the play. Powell River looked like they ran out of gas and didn't have much left in the tank. Vernon had a ton of looks-opportunities, especially towards the end of the period. The Kings had back to back powerplay's early in the first half, had a good chance to get back in the contest, but struggled on the man advantage, before giving up a shorthanded goal. Someone on the Kings bench wasn't pleased at one point in the 3rd after yelling out some foul language twice within seconds. Vernon outshot Powell River 17-8.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Will Dow-Kenny Making his Vipers debut this afternoon, played two games as an "AP" last season with the Snakes before being traded to Chilliwack in the off season played very well today. Made at least three solid defensive plays, had a strong game on the Vipers blueline. Was very impressed with the youngster.
Ben Helgeson (1 assist) I thought played very well, was skating hard, creating plays, was making things happen. Was involved in a few odd man rushes, was dangerous with the puck.
Tyler Ho (1 goal) Was another forward who I thought played hard-well in the victory.
Josh Latta (1 goal) I have always liked Josh Latta when he played with Salmon Arm and then now with the Vipers. I thought brought a ton of jump/energy to the lineup today, was one of the more dominate Vipers this afternoon. Played hard, was engaged in the play, aggressive on the forecheck and dangerous in the offensive zone. Was hard to contain, giving the Kings troubles.
Teddy Wooding (2 goals) Played hard, was aggressive on the forecheck and on pucks. Was really skating, creating/generating plays, was hard to contain and hard to defend against.
Lane Zablocki (1 goal) Making his Vipers debut after coming over from the Kelowna Rockets at the trade deadline, made a big impact to the Vernon Vipers lineup. A good skater, hard on pucks, finishes his checks, goes to the net and works hard. Had a strong game, looked very good.
Aidan Porter (22 saves) Kind of like in Friday's night's win over Salmon Arm, wasn't tested much through out the game but was forced to make a few tough saves, really played his position well, is playing with confidence. After it looked like Bradley Cooper took over the #1 job, now Porter has started the last few games. Was good between the pipes today.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
For a second straight game the Vipers played very well and very close to sixty minutes. Where did this team come from? This isn't the same team from before Christmas. The Snakes are a different team since the holidays. I think it all started with that 3-0 win in Wenatchee before the Christmas break. For the first time this year the Vipers have won three straight. I thought Vernon played very well today and fully deserved the win. With Powell River playing their third game in three days, the Vipers jumped on the Kings early, getting out to a quick 2-0 lead less then five minutes in. Earlier in the season, we saw the Vipers get out to leads before blowing those leads and the game. This afternoon the Snakes didn't take their foot off the gas and kept applying the pressure, holding the Kings in their own end often. All four lines played well and contributed. This team is playing with some confidence and looks to have a lot more jump-energy in their game this month. The Vipers have played hard all season but they look to be playing with a lot more jump in their game. I really like the addition of the two new players. Specialty teams was a difference today. The Vipers powerplay was clicking scoring three PP goals. For a team that had troubles scoring all season, look out! Vernon has thirteen goals in their last three games. The Snakes have won three straight and have at least a point in five of their last six games. Former Vernon Lakers stick boy and Vernon Vipers trainer Trevor McEachnie was in attendance. With the win Vernon moves a game over 500 improving to 17-16-7-3 remain in 6th place in the division, are a point back of Salmon Arm and five points back of West Kelowna.
Top Player's: (Powell River)
The line of Ryan Brushett, Neal Samanski & Christian Buono was the most effective unit going for the Kings in the loss. These three were dangerous at times. The Vipers should have never traded Brushett. Scored his 30th goal of the season last night in Salmon Arm.
Ryan Pouliot Played a strong game on the Kings defence.
Mitchell Williams (1 goal) Played well for Powell River. Created/generated a few looks, was involved in the play often.
Game Thought's: (Powell River)
Playing their third game in three days it showed as the Kings were outplayed a lot of the game. PR couldn't gain much momentum and gain much puck possession, were chasing the puck and played a lot of the game in their own end. The Kings defeated the Smoke Eaters in overtime Friday in Trail and then won in the shoot out last night in Salmon Arm, looked like they ran out of gas in the 2nd-or 3rd period this afternoon. Not many teams will win many games when giving up three powerplay goals and a shorthanded goal. Powell River also didn't didn't do themselves any favors by going 0-4 on the man advantage. The Kings had back to back powerplay's in the 3rd for a chance to get back in the hockey game and struggled with the man advantage, gave up a shorthanded goal. PR struggled offensively, didn't have a lot of time in the offensive zone and didn't get a lot of quality chances. The Kings had several veteran-key players out of the lineup. A big loss not having Ben Berard in the lineup. Falling behind two goals just over four minutes in was a big blow. Having to claw back down 2-0 on the road playing your third game in three days is difficult. The Vipers speed gave Powell River all kinds of trouble in the 1st period. The Kings & Vipers split the season series with the Kings winning at home 3-2 in a shoot out October 26th. With the loss Powell River falls to 25-16-1-0 still remain 2nd in the Island division.
Jagger Williamson (Injured)
Jesse Lansdell (Suspended)
Logan Cash (Injured)
Carver Watson (Injured)
Energy Player of the Game:
Josh Latta (1 goal)
1st Star: Teddy Wooding (2 goals)
2nd Star: Ben Sanderson (2 assists)
3rd Star: Lane Zablocki (1 goal)