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 1999-2000 season. For anyone who couldn't attend or watch today'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-Rivermen game as Langley defeated Vernon 4-2 in front of 2,315 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Bradley Cooper
Langley: Shayne Battler
1st Period: The Vipers jumped on the visiting Langley Rivermen off the opening puck drop. The Snakes with a few pucks to the net early, before Logan Cash beat Shayne Battler about 1:10 into the hockey game but rang his shot off the post as Vernon come very close to opening the scoring about a minute into the game. The Vipers would jump on an early powerplay just over two minutes in. Teddy Wooding with a hard shot, couldn't solve Shayne Battler who made a big stop on the PP. Matt Kowalski would open the scoring, beating Shayne Battler five hole, giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 3:47 Brendan Kim & Connor Marritt collected the helpers. The Rivermen with a good push back shift after the goal, come back the other way on the following shift. Riley Wallack's shot from just across the blueline looked too fool Bradley Cooper, tying the game 1-1 on the Riv's first shot on goal, at 4:36 on a goal Cooper would like to have back. Matteo Pecchia drew the lone assist. Vernon outshooting Langley 7-1 at this point. Less then two minutes later Trevor Ayre beat Bradley Cooper on the Rivermen's second shot of the afternoon, giving Langley a 2-1 lead at 6:22 Brian Scoville picked up the helper. This was the end of the afternoon for Vipers starting goaltender Bradley Cooper. Cooper was replaced by Aidan Porter. Cooper gave up two goals on two Langley shots. The Snakes battled back, carried the better of the play for the next five-six minutes but didn't create/or generate much for offence. The Vipers tried sending Teddy Wooding in for the breakaway just before the halfway mark, couldn't connect on the pass before being tied up. Shortly after Chase Pietzke's shot from a sharp angle below the circle somehow beat Aidan Porter, giving Langley a 3-1 lead at 12:42 Pietzke's goal was unassisted. Im not sure if the puck beat Porter high over his shoulder or went through his arm, either way it was 3-1 for the visitors. Shortly after Teddy Wooding would go in for the parcial breakaway and be hooked/hauled down in close after getting a shot off, would be rewarded with a penalty shot. Complaints from the Langley d-man who hauled Wooding down. Wooding would come in slow failed to get a shot off, mishandled the puck in close, would hear about it from the Rivermen bench. It remained 3-1 Riv. Matt Kowalski on an odd man rush with about five minutes left in the opening frame, would be denied by Shayne Battler, who made a big save late in the period. On the following shift the Vipers would go down two men after Jesse Lansdell and Jagger Williamson would be called for tripping. Williamson went straight to the official to complain about the call, would then pick up a ten minute misconduct on top of the two minute tripping minor. The fans erupted, while Mark Ferner would get ejected from the contest after arguing with the officials. Langley would get good pressure, have some good looks but didn't really generate much for chances as Aidan Porter made one maybe two big stops as Vernon would kill off both minors. Just as the penalties expired, Devin Leduc would get in behind the Snakes defence couldn't beat Aidan Porter who come up with a large save towards the end of the period. It was 3-1 Langley after 20 minutes of play. I didn't think the Snakes played all that bad of a period, it was the goaltending that let Vernon down. For the second straight game Bradley Cooper didn't look sharp, gave up two goals on two shots was pulled from the hockey game early. The Vipers jumped on Langley off the start of the game, hit an early post, eventually opened the scoring on a powerplay, looked good before giving up two quick back to back goals. Vernon didn't panic, played well I thought, carried the better of the play, had more puck possession, didn't generate a lot of quality chances. It seemed like the Rivermen who didn't touch the puck often in the opening twenty minutes, capitalized on their chances. Whatever they fired towards the net, seemed to go in. I thought the Snakes were the better team, didn't get the puck luck-bounces go their way. The Vipers really needed a goal on Teddy Wooding's penalty shot, to try and get some momentum go their way and get back in the hockey game. The Rivermen also looked to have the officials on their side this period, had the calls go their way. Vernon outshot Langley 15-9.
2nd Period: The Rivermen jumped on the Snakes off the opening faceoff. Langley with a ton of pressure early, had Vernon back on their heels. Inside the opening minute, Mark Gallant with a quick shot from a sharp angle forced Vipers goaltender Aidan Porter into making a quick reaction save from down low, before the puck come back to the point, where Colten Kovich's shot from the blueline forced Aidan Porter into making a quick pad save. Langley with lots of pressure early were all over the Snakes. Vernon seemed to settle down and get their game going about six or so minutes in and slowly started to take control of the game-period. The Vipers with lots of zone time and puck possession, had troubles creating/generating chances. Vernon may have controlled the better of the play, but wasn't getting any quality chances. Just before the halfway mark, it looked like the Vipers were going on the PP but Jesse Lansdell was given two minutes for diving on a play where he was basically tripped up in the offensive zone. The Vipers bench and faithful inside Kal Tire Place erupted letting the officials know what they thought about the call. Both teams went to four on four before Kalen Szeto beat Aidan Porter on a harmless looking shot, giving Langley a commanding 4-1 lead at 10:25 This goal basically put the game away. Riley Lanthier & Bronson Sharp picked up the assists. Just over a minute later, Vernon would jump on the powerplay, but shorthanded Tanner Versluis on an odd man rush would be denied by Aidan Porter as the Snakes struggled with the man advantage. Viper captain Jagger Williamson looked to get Vernon back in the game rang his shot off the post as the Riv escape and kill off the minor. It was 4-1 Langley after 40 minutes of play. The Rivermen jumped on the Snakes off the opening faceoff and dominated the play for at least the first five-six minutes as Vernon was back on their heels, running around in their own end. Langley with good pressure, had some looks and two quality chances looked good early to start the middle frame. The Vipers would eventually get back in the game, get their game going but had troubles creating/generating offence. The Vipers carried the better of the play for most of the remainder of the period, had more puck possession and zone time, but didn't get any real quality chances. The Viper offence struggled. Vernon really needed a goal this period, to try and get within two heading into the 3rd. For a second straight period the Riv didn't see much time in the offensive zone, had very little puck possession, other then the opening five-six minutes. Give the Rivermen credit, they boxed the Snakes out and kept Vernon to the outside. Shayne Battler was seeing everything, wasn't really tested this period. Vernon outshot Langley 12-7.
3rd Period: The Snakes with good pressure early, had some jump to start the final frame. Inside the opening minute, Rivermen starting goaltender Shayne Battler used his acting skills to try and sucker the Vipers into an early penalty for goaltender interference. With no Viper anywhere near the front of the net, the play continued. About five minutes in, Logan Cash with an excellent opportunity from the hashmarks would be denied by Shayne Battler who made a big save. On the following shift, Jagger Williamson beat Shayne Battler from a sharp angle, cutting the Langley lead to 4-2 at 5:39 Williamson's goal was unassisted. The Snakes continued to press but once again lacked the offence, had several shots blocked or weren't getting the chances. Around the midway mark, Vernon would jump on the powerplay and a chance to get within a goal. Ben Sanderson and Jack Judson with good looks-opportunities, couldn't solve Shayne Battler who made two big stops on the PK. Langley with a good penalty kill, killed off the minor. The Snakes carried the better of the play for most of the period had troubles getting bodies in front and generating scoring chances. The Rivermen at times did a good job at holding onto the puck, winding down the clock, taking valuable time off the clock. The Vipers would get Aidan Porter to the bench with about 1:50 remaining. Vernon with a few looks-chances down low couldn't solve Shayne Battler as Langley would hang on for the 4-2 victory. The Vipers carried the play for most of the period, had a ton of zone time and puck possession but the same old story all afternoon, didn't really create/generate chances. The Rivermen blocked a lot of shots, kept Vernon to the outside and limited their shots-chances. When the Snakes did get their chances, Shayne Battler made some big stops. Vernon playing their third game in three days, looked tired and out of gas in the 3rd, didn't have the jump/energy to mount a 3rd period comeback. The visiting Rivermen saw most of the frame in their own end, played well defensively, were hanging onto the two goal lead most of the period. Vernon outshot Langley 15-6.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Ben Sanderson I thought played well, had some jump in his game.
Connor Marritt (1 assist) I thought played hard, battled, was creating some open ice.
Jesse Lansdell Played on the edge, was physical, was getting under the skin of several Rivermen players. Was always in the mix in and after the whistles.
Logan Cash I thought looked good-played well. Hit the goal post about 1:10 into the hockey game, had a few looks-opportunities.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
Playing their third game in three days, it showed at times through out the game. I didn't think the Vipers played all that poorly but goaltending let them down this afternoon. Bradley Cooper who struggled last weekend was pulled in the Penticton game, didn't look sharp-played well this afternoon, got the hook after giving up two goals on two Langley shots. Aidan Porter who played the remainder of the game, also didn't look as sharp, was giving up big rebounds-second opportunities, almost coughed up the puck in the 3rd period. I thought Vernon looked good at times and not so good at other times during the game. I thought the Snakes carried the better of the play for most of the game but struggled offensively and got a little sloppy at times. The Vipers had troubles getting bodies-traffic in front of the Rivermen goal, had troubles creating/generating chances through out the afternoon. The Vipers fired 42 pucks to the net but didn't get a ton of grade a chances. Vernon didn't have the jump/energy as the game continued, looked to run out of gas in the 3rd period. I was very impressed with the large crowd this afternoon, a great turnout on a Sunday. One of if not the biggest crowd I have seen on a Sunday game ever? The Snakes didn't get the calls go their way in the 1st period, and also needed a timely goal either in the 1st or 2nd period, to try and get back within a goal or two. Teddy Wooding really needed to score on his penalty shot in the opening frame, and the Vipers really needed a goal in the middle frame to get back in the hockey game. A quick turn around as Vernon hosts the visiting Coquitlam Express Wednesday, before playing their final regular season game in Merritt Saturday. A blown opportunity from the Vipers today, could have clinched either 4th or 5th place with a win today as the West Kelowna Warriors are five points back with only three games remaining. The Snakes also could have moved three points up on idle Salmon Arm who plays Wenatchee and Penticton twice to finish the 2018-19 regular season. With the loss Vernon falls to 25-21-7-3 remain 4th in the Interior division are six points up on Trail, five points up on 6th place West Kelowna, a point up on 5th place Salmon Arm and six points back of 3rd place Wenatchee.
Top Player's: (Langley)
Colten Kovich I thought played well on the Rivermen blueline.
Kalen Szeto Not the biggest kid but plays with a ton of jump/energy. A real buzzsaw for the Riv. Hard on the puck/forecheck, works/competes and never quits skating. Played very well this afternoon.
Riley Wallack (1 goal) Looked good, played well through out the contest. Had at least two good opportunities. Moves the puck up ice, creates open ice, reads the play well.
Shayne Battler (40 saves) Was by far the busier of the two goaltenders, stopped 40 of 42 Vernon shots. Wasn't tested a lot but did make some large saves on occasions. Was seeing everything, got help from his defence. Didn't have a lot of traffic-or bodies in and around the top of the crease, made the saves when needed. A fairly big goaltender, reads the plays well, plays with confidence.
Game Thought's: (Langley)
The Rivermen didn't get off to the start they wanted, were outplayed early, fell behind early giving up an early powerplay goal, were outshot 7-0 at one point, before scoring two quick goals on back to back shots to turn the tide. Langley didn't see much offensive zone time through out the game, capitalized on their chances. The Riv seemed whatever they fired at the goal, went in. Langley caught the breaks and had the bounces go their way today, got the calls go their way as well. I thought the Vipers carried the better of the play for most of the afternoon but give the Rivermen credit, they played well defensively, blocked a lot of shots, kept Vernon to the outside, took away a lot of time and space and got the goaltending when needed. The Rivermen also playing their third game in three days, snap a five game losing skid and finish their road trip at 1-2. Prior to today's game the Riv had dropped five straight on the road and lost eight of their last ten games away from home. Prior to today the Rivermen had lost five straight and seven of their last ten games. The Riv didn't get many pucks to the net, didn't have much puck possession. These two teams split the season series. With the victory Langley improves to 26-26-2-1 remain 4th in the Mainland division are twenty nine points up on last place Surrey and five points back of 3rd place Coquitlam.
Ben Helgeson (Injured)
Energy Player of the Game:
1st Star: Shayne Battler (40 saves)
2nd Star: Riley Wallack (1 goal)
3rd Star: Matt Kowalski (1 goal)