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 tonight's Vipers game, 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-Chiefs game as Chilliwack defeated Vernon 3-2 in front of 1,745 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Aidan Porter
Chilliwack: Daniel Chenard
1st Period: Just over a minute into the contest with the Chiefs buzzing on offence Skyler Brind'Amour alone in front setup Cole Donhauser who would be robbed by Aidan Porter on a shot that looked beat the Vipers starting goaltender, somehow ended up in his glove. A minute later Jesse Lansdell would be denied by Daniel Chenard. A minute later a shot off the end wall come right out front, Skyler Brind'Amour's shot beat Aidan Porter but not the bottom of the post as the defending Royal Bank Cup Champions come close to opening the scoring. About a minute and a half later Matt Kowalski looked to have Daniel Chenard beat but wired his shot off the crossbar, before Ben Helgeson somehow missed the open cage on the second opportunity. Back and fourth the play went with some quality chances at both ends of the rink. About a minute later former Kelowna Rocket Lane Zablocki went in for the breakaway would be denied by Daniel Chenard before sliding back into the net along with the puck, giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 6:45 Zablocki's goal was unassisted. Four minutes later Aidan Porter would make a big save off a goal mouth scramble before Carter Wilkie snuck one in short side alone the ice, tying the game 1-1 at 10:51 Nathan Kelly drew the lone assist. Just over three minutes later the Vipers would get the games first powerplay. Former Chilliwack Chief Carver Watson returning to the Snakes lineup tonight, wired a shot that beat Daniel Chenard but not the crossbar. Vernon with good pressure, had some looks and opportunities on the man advantage. Just as the penalty expired former Chilliwack Chief Jesse Lansdell from a sharp angle beat Daniel Chenard but rang his shot off the post. With two minutes remaining the Snakes pressing, Teddy Wooding and Ben Helgeson with quality chances were stoned in close by Daniel Chenard. With a minute left in the opening frame Jesse Lansdell couldn't solve Daniel Chenard. The Vipers with all kinds of pressure and chances late in the final minutes. It was 1-1 after 20 minutes of play. A wild start to the hockey game as both teams went back and fourth with very good quality chances at either ends of the rink. A very entertaining first half for sure. Vernon seemed to take over the play at times in the second half, had a ton of quality opportunities couldn't solve Daniel Chenard who was solid between the pipes. The Vipers could have easily had four or five goals this period if it wasn't for the goaltending of Chenard. The Snakes with a ton of quality chances through out the period. Vernon outshot Chilliwack 17-10.
2nd Period: Just over two minutes into the middle frame Lane Zablocki setup Ben Sanderson for the quick release beat Chiefs starting goaltender Daniel Chenard giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 2:23 Zablocki with the helper. The Snakes carried the better of the play for the next six minutes before getting their second powerplay of the evening. Chilliwack would get away with too many men once but not the second time, sending the Snakes to the PP. Shorthanded the league leading Chiefs sprung Kevin Wall in for the breakaway would be stopped by Vipers starting goaltender Aidan Porter. Vernon struggled with the man advantage. In the dying seconds of the PP the Chiefs sprung Jacques Bouquot in for the breakaway but once again Aidan Porter was there to bail out his team getting a piece of Bouquot's shot with the shaft of his goal stick. Two big stops shorthanded from Porter. Chilliwack kills off the minor. This seemed to take some wind out of the Vipers as the Chiefs gained some momentum and slowly started to take control of the play and some of the second half of the period. Just into the midway mark the Snakes would lose Landon Fuller for the remainder of the period after picking up two minutes for a blow to the head and an automatic ten minute misconduct. The Chiefs couldn't take advantage as Vernon killed off the penalty. On a goal mouth scramble with about five minutes remaining, Daniel Chenard made at least three stops down low before robbing Jack Judson at the side of the goal, making a large pad save, keeping this a one goal game. With two minutes left in the 2nd period Chilliwack looked to tie the game. With Aidan Porter out of position, a Chiefs attacker was staring at a wide open cage but Brendan Kim made a strong defensive play, playing goal made the stop with his hand-glove, taking away a goal. It was 2-1 Vernon after 40 minutes of play. The Vipers take the lead on an early goal to start the middle frame, looked good and played good for the first half but struggled at times in the second half. I thought Vernon was the better of the two teams in the first half but Chilliwack seemed to battle back, playing much better and had a slight edge in play in the second half of the frame. Neither team had the scoring chances they recorded in the 1st period. Vernon outshot Chilliwack 17-10.
3rd Period: About four and a half minutes in Coleton Bilodeau with some slick moves in the slot, looked to lose the handle in close. About a minute later the Chiefs would get an early powerplay. A very strong penalty kill early as the Snakes were keeping Chilliwack out of the attacking zone. But with thirty seconds left in the man advantage, Kevin Wall tied the game 2-2 at 7:11 the goal was given to Jacques Bouquot who wasn't even on the ice at the time of the goal. Aidan Porter come very close to stopping this puck, stretched across the crease just got a piece of it but not all as the puck crossed the goal line. Ben Helgeson and Aidan Porter complained to the referee wanting goaltender interference as it looked like a Chiefs player was lying on top of Aidan Porter. The goal stood it was tied 2-2. Harrison Blaisdell collected the assist. Just over four minutes later on a broken play former Vernon Vipers defenceman Mitch Andres beat Aidan Porter fivehole giving Chilliwack their first lead of the night 3-2 at 11:31 This was a goal I think Porter would like to have back. Jacques Bouquot and Carter Wilkie picked up the helpers. Brett Willits was seen standing in the tunnel with no gloves or helmet on, watched most of the 3rd period from the tunnel. Harrison Blaisdell looked to be shaken up after a check or going down awkwardly, was favoring his arm going to the Chiefs bench, but seemed to be ok, stayed in the hockey game. With about six minutes remaining the Vipers spotted Lane Zablocki alone in front would be denied by Daniel Chenard who made a large save, a game saver keeping this a 3-2 game. Shortly after Chilliwack would get a late powerplay but unable to capitalize with the PP. The Vipers would get Aidan Porter to the bench with about 1:20 remaining, had troubles getting pucks to the net for most of that time. The Snakes would get a few looks-pucks to the net in the dying thirty seconds or so but couldn't solve Daniel Chenard who made at least three big saves in the dying seconds. The Chiefs would hold on to win 3-2 and sweep the season series 2-0. I thought the Chiefs carried most of the play, had the puck on their stick most of the final period. Vernon had just four shots in the first eleven minutes, had troubles getting control of the puck/play. The Snakes struggled offensively most of the 3rd period. The Chiefs kept Vernon to the outside and along the wall in the third. Chilliwack didn't get a lot of pucks to the net or chances but capitalized on their opportunities. The Vipers really needed that third goal early in the frame, couldn't hold the lead giving up two 3rd period goals. Vernon outshot Chilliwack 11-9.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
The line of Jesse Lansdell, Lane Zablocki (1 goal & 1 assist) & Ben Sanderson (1 goal) I thought was the Snakes top unit this evening. I thought Sanderson was really skating hard, had some looks-opportunities. Had a strong game up front. Lansdell was playing hard, was finishing his checks, had some good looks-chances, while Zablocki has really added a lot to this Vipers roster. Had a strong game in the loss. Was physical, quick on the forecheck, created/generated some chances, played hard.
Jack Judson Had a strong night on the backend. Was really flying, involved in the play, jumped into the rush, moving the puck up ice, played very well at both ends of the rink.
Aidan Porter (26 saves) Wasn't tested as much as Daniel Chenard but still was forced to make some big stops for the Vipers. Showed a lot of confidence tonight, was at the top of his crease, battling hard all night, controlled his rebounds, has really come along way since the start of the season.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
This week-weekend is going to be a huge test for the Vernon Vipers and tonight was one of them, hosting the defending champs and league leading Chilliwack Chiefs. The Snakes didn't back down and held their own and more for most of the contest. Coming into tonight riding a three game win streak and winners of eight of their last ten games, could have put this game away in the 1st period. The Vipers run into a hot goaltender, hit two crossbars and one post, don't get the bounces go their way in the loss. I thought Vernon played very well vs the 1st place Chiefs, just couldn't find the offence when needed come the 3rd period. The Vipers could have easily had four or five goals in that opening frame, come out of the first period tied 1-1. The Vipers knew they were going to be in tough tonight, really needed that two goal lead, instead cant hold a one goal lead heading into the 3rd, giving up two 3rd period goals. Vernon struggled offensively in the final twenty minutes just couldn't get pucks to the net-create/generate much offence. Vernon had a ton more scoring chances over the Chiefs and looked like the better team at times through out the game. Overall this was a very exciting and entertaining hockey game. The Vipers have three former Chiefs (Carver Watson, Will Dow-Kenny and Jesse Lansdell). With the loss the Vipers fall to 22-19-7-3 remain in 4th place one point up on West Kelowna and one point back of Salmon Arm. The Snakes with just seven games left in the regular season. Former Vernon Lakers forward-Vernon Vipers head coach-GM Troy Mick was at tonight's game. Kevin Kraus wasn't behind the bench tonight, while new assistant coach Larry Draper made his Vipers coaching debut. Rumors around the arena are that assistant coach Kevin Pederson who hasn't been with the team for at least the last month or so has left the team to scout full time with the Arizona Coyotes.
Top Player's: (Chilliwack)
Nathan Kelly I thought played well on the Chiefs blueline.
The line of Ethan Bowen, Jacques Bouquot (1 assist) and Carter Wilkies (1 goal & 1 assist) was Chilliwack's top unit. These three were involved in the scoring, were hard to defend against and played very well in the 3-2 victory.
Matt Holmes Impressed me tonight, a good skater, can move the puck, played well through out the night.
Daniel Chenard (37 saves) Was the difference in the hockey game. Chenard was at his best in the opening frame, stopping sixteen of seventeen Vernon shots, keeping the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs in the hockey game. Chenard made several game savers in that 1st period with the Snakes pressing. You have to be lucky to be good and good to be lucky and Chenard was all of that and more. How doesn't this kid earn 1st star? Mitch Andres gets 3rd star? Why because he scored vs his former team? I never noticed Andres at all until his goal.
Game Thought's: (Chilliwack)
The Chiefs went back and fourth with Vernon off the opening puck drop but as the 1st period went along the Vipers had a slight edge in play. Chilliwack didn't seem to recover until the second half of the middle frame and then carried most of the play come the 3rd period. Down a goal heading into the final frame, the Chiefs only mustered nine shots on goal, didn't get a ton of chances but capitalized on their opportunities. The Chiefs gave up a ton of quality chances, heavily relied on their goaltender to bail them out often. At times the Chiefs were outplayed, but recovered with a quick push back shift. The Chiefs go to the net and work hard on the forecheck, played very well defensively in the 3rd, keeping the Vipers to the outside, limiting their time and space. Chilliwack has some size and speed up front but I was surprised to see they only have two 20 yr olds on their roster. One is former Vipers defenceman Mitch Andres. With the victory the Chiefs improve to 38-12-1-0 sit atop the Mainland division and overall standings. The Chiefs have won six straight on the road and have just one loss in their last twelve games.
Jagger Williamson (Injured)
Josh Latta (Sick)
Logan Cash (Sick)
Assistant Coach Kevin Kraus
Energy Player of the Game:
1st Star: Jacques Bouquot (1 assist)
2nd Star: Lane Zablocki (1 goal & 1 assist)
3rd Star: Mitch Andres (1 goal)