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-Vees game as Penticton defeated Vernon 8-2 in front of 2,017 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Bradley Cooper
Penticton: Jack LaFontaine
Before tonight's game the Vernon Vipers honoured the 1976,77 & 78 Vernon Tigers senior men's lacrosse team on their 40th anniversary of winning three straight championships. The Tigers won three straight National championships in a row from 1976 to 1978. About a half dozen former players/coaches were on hand on the red carpet at centre ice for the ceremony. A championship banner was raised to the rafters in honour of the Tigers three straight championships.
1st Period: Off the opening faceoff the Vees got the play in deep before Bradley Cooper took a spill behind the Viper net, before having to quickly recover and scurry back into goal. The Vipers looked a little lackluster off the opening faceoff as Penticton jumped on Vernon early in front of a large crowd at Kal Tire Place. Just over a minute in the Vees spotted Cole Sheppard in front who would be denied by Bradley Cooper who had trouble handling the puck early. On the following play Eric Linell's point shot would be stopped by Bradley Cooper who couldn't handle the rebound, allowing Ty Pochipinski at the top of the crease to bury the rebound in close, giving Penticton an early 1-0 lead at 1:38 Linell and Carson Kosobud collected the helpers. The V's outshooting Vernon early 5-2 just minutes in. About two and a half minutes later the Vipers sprung Josh Latta in for the parcial breakaway couldn't solve Jack LaFontaine, making a big stop in tight. About a minute later the Snakes setup Tyler Ho going to the net, couldn't beat LaFontaine in close on a bit of a goal mouth scramble. Minutes later the Vipers spring Teddy Wooding in for the breakaway would be denied in close by Jack LaFontaine. The Vees starting goaltender come up large early, keeping Penticton in the contest. Minutes later former Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Josh Latta with a quick shot from the circle forced Jack LaFontaine into flashing the leather, made a quick glove save. LaFontaine was the difference maker in the first half. Vernon responding quickly firing pucks to the net, were now outshooting Penticton 11-7 at one point. The V's would get the games first powerplay with about three minutes remaining. Lukas Sillinger with a wicked shot from the high slot beat Bradley Cooper rang his shot off the far post as the Vees come within inches of grabbing a two goal lead late. Halfway through the PP the Vees would take a penalty, sending both teams to four on four, before Vernon would finish the period on the man advantage. The Snakes unable to capitalize with the powerplay before the period ended. It was 1-0 Penticton after 20 minutes of play. The visiting Penticton Vees got off to a quick start, jumped on the Snakes off the opening puck drop, opened the scoring early, took the crowd out of the game not even two minutes in. Outshooting Vernon 5-2 just minutes in, it looked like Penticton may walk away with this game, but the Snakes responded in a hurry, turning the momentum and flow of the game. It took the Vipers about five minutes to get going but got better as the period continued. I thought Vernon was the better of the two teams, as the Vees went at least six or so minutes around the midway mark without a shot on goal. The Vipers with at least five or six real quality opportunities couldn't solve Jack LaFontaine who was solid between the pipes for the Vees. At the other end of the rink, Bradley Cooper didn't look very sharp, was having troubles controlling his rebounds. Vernon had the better of the scoring chances, couldn't capitalize on their opportunities. Vernon outshot Penticton 15-10.
2nd Period: The Vees needed 1:38 to open the scoring in the 1st period, well the Vipers didn't need very long to get on the board to start the middle frame. Ben Sanderson setup Teddy Wooding on an odd man rush, tied the game 1-1 at 1:25 Sanderson drew the lone assist. Off the following faceoff the Vipers come right back with another odd man rush, couldn't connect on the pass on a missed opportunity. The Vees would catch the Vipers on a defensive breakdown minutes later. Ryan Stack spotted Jack Lagerstrom alone at the circle beat Vipers starting goaltender Bradley Cooper shortside, giving Penticton a 2-1 lead at 3:10 Lagerstrom & Brendan Harrogate picked up the assists. Just fourteen seconds later Evan McIntyre's point shot had eyes, found the back of the net, giving Penticton a 3-1 lead at 3:24 McIntyre's goal was unassisted. Fans calling for Aidan Porter after two quick back to back goals by the Vees. On the following shift Penticton gets away with a marginal hit along the side wall, before Ben Sanderson takes a hooking penalty just seconds later, sending the V's to the powerplay for the first time this evening. On the man advantage David Silye beat former Prince George Spruce Kings goaltender Bradley Cooper giving Penticton a 4-1 lead at 5:29 James Miller with the helper. Three quick goals in just over two minutes basically put the game away. This was the end of the night for Bradley Cooper who gave up four goals on just thirteen Penticton shots. Aidan Porter replaced Cooper as the crowd gave a Bronx cheer during the goaltending switch. Minutes later the Snakes setup Josh Latta on an odd man rush who would be denied by Jack LaFontaine. The Vipers with their third odd man rush of the period. On the following play, Carson Kosobud beat Aidan Porter down low, giving Penticton a commanding 5-1 lead at 7:17 Eric Linell with the only helper. Minutes later Vernon would get their first PP of the 2nd period but struggled with the man advantage. Teddy Wooding looked to have an open cage on a goal mouth scramble, rang his shot off the crossbar with Vees starting goaltender Jack LaFontaine down and out. Penticton would kill off the minor. Just as the penalty expired former Kelowna Rockets forward Lane Zablocki would high stick Mason Snell who went down in a hurry and needed some attention on his way to the dressing room. Zablocki would be given four minutes for high sticking, while Snell was getting repairs in the dressing room. Snell would return to the ice later wearing jersey #37 with no name bar. The trainer was spotted earlier removing a name bar from the back of the jersey before giving it to Snell. Early into the powerplay, Aidan Porter was quickly forced into making a glove save. On the man advantage, Penticton would take a penalty of their own in the offensive zone, sending both teams to four on four. Vernon would come away with a late powerplay but just as the PP was coming to an end, Cassidy Bowes scores shorthanded, giving Penticton a 6-1 lead at 16:25 David Silye and Brendan Harrogate picked up the assists. On the following puck drop the Snakes would jump back on the powerplay but unable to capitalize. It was 6-1 Penticton after 40 minutes of play. The Vipers get off to a quick start, tying the game just over a minute in, get the crowd into the game, finally able to solve Vees goaltender Jack LaFontaine before giving up three quick goals in just over two minutes. This was the TSN turning point and basically put the game away and Vernon could never recover. Mark Ferner and the Vipers should have pulled Bradley Cooper after Penticton's third goal. Cooper looked shaky all night, didn't look good between the pipes, stayed in the game allowing a fourth goal before being yanked. After tying the game early to start the period, two quick back to back goals just fourteen seconds apart, took the life out of the Vipers as the Vees outplayed and carried most of the play for most of the period. Vernon with at least three or four odd man rushes couldn't bury their chances, needed a save at the other end of the rink and didn't get one. Give the V's full credit, they capitalized on their opportunities and put this game away early. Penticton outshot Vernon 14-10.
3rd Period: A minute into the final frame Lukas Sillinger on a two on one, decided to keep and shoot would be stopped by Aidan Porter. On the following shift the Vees would get an early powerplay and capitalize. Evan McIntyre with his second of the night, gave Penticton a 7-1 lead at 2:41 David Silye & Ryan Sandelin with the helpers. Down six goals the Vipers ramped up the physical play, laying out several checks, finishing their checks, seemed to be hitting any player wearing a Vees jersey in sight. The Vipers looked to have scored on a play in front of the goal, while the red light come on the referee standing behind the goal waived the goal off as the play continued. The goal judge even threw his hands in the air as to saying why wasn't that a goal. After Landon Fuller laid out a huge check on Eric Linell, the referee's and linesmen gathered in front of the penalty box. Linell was down for a minute or so before slowly making his way to the Penticton Vees bench. After a lengthy discussion the referee's changed their minds and called it a goal. Fred Harbinson obviously not too happy with the call, had a heated discussion with one of the referee's. Vernon's goal was rewarded to Jack Judson at 6:27 cutting Penticton's lead to 7-2 Judson's goal was unassisted. This goal seemed to spark the Snakes who ramped up their play, continuing to lay out several checks, slowly started to take control of the play. It looked like the Vees took their foot off the gas as Vernon had lots of offensive zone time but no real quality chances. Jack LaFontaine was forced to make a few saves in close with no second opportunities. Around the halfway mark Lane Zablocki who was involved in several scrums in and after the whistle, tried dropping the gloves with Eric Linell who skated away. Jesse Lansdell took the feet from under Jack LaFontaine sending Penticton to a shortened powerplay, after James Miller took a tripping minor seconds later. Both teams played four on four before getting back to even strength. With about six minutes remaining Elan Bar-Lev-Wise looked to have beat Jack LaFontaine from a sharp angle but the puck went through LaFontaine's legs, through the blue paint and out the other side. Vernon stepped up the hitting towards the end of the period on a few shifts before Carson Kosobud caught the Snakes napping scored his second of the evening, giving Penticton a 8-2 lead at 16:42 Penticton would come away with the 8-2 victory. The Snakes carried a lot of the play at times after it looked like Penticton took their foot off the gas. Vernon down 7-1 heading into the 3rd really ramped up the physical play to start the 3rd, were hitting almost every Vees player in sight. It looked like Vernon was trying to send a message if these two teams meet in the playoffs. The Vipers didn't really generate much for offence, scored once but had very little quality chances through out the 3rd period. With the score and game out of reach, the Vees took their foot off the gas for most of the final frame. Viper fans started making their way to the exits around the midway mark as Kal Tire Place emptied in a hurry as the period continued. Penticton outshot Vernon 11-10.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Ben Sanderson (1 assist) I thought played with a lot of jump, used his speed through out the game.
Josh Latta Had several good chances in the 1st period, couldn't find the back of the net, was another Viper forward who I thought played well in the lopsided loss.
Teddy Wooding (1 goal) Was another kid who had his fare chances of opportunities, found the back of the net on an odd man rush early into the 2nd period. Played with a lot of jump, was quick to pucks.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
The Vees jumped on the Snakes off the opening faceoff, opened the scoring at 1:38 were quickly outshooting Vernon 5-2 just minutes in. The Vipers needed a few minutes to re-group and find their game, I thought took over the play and period and were the better of the two teams for most of the opening frame. I thought the Vipers had way more opportunities, couldn't capitalize on their chances. It was the middle frame that cost Vernon the hockey game. After tying the game early the Vipers then give up two quick back to back goals just fourteen seconds apart, before giving up a third goal just over a minute later and then a fourth goal just over two minutes later. The Vees with four quick goals in just over four minutes put the Vipers and the game away not even halfway through the hockey game. From here on in it wasn't much of a game and basically the Vipers going through the motions. I have to question why the Vipers went with Bradley Cooper in goal after Aidan Porter's strong performance in the 3-2 overtime victory in Penticton Friday night. Why not go back with Porter? My second question is Cooper looked shaky off the opening puck drop, why wasn't he pulled after the 2nd or 3rd Penticton goal? With the biggest crowd of the season, the Vipers choke and get blown out for the first time in a long time. It seems like anytime the Vipers get a large crowd at home, no matter the year or the team, the Vipers lay an egg and everyone goes home disappointed. Were the Vipers too confident after last night's 3-2 overtime win in Penticton? Did goaltending let the Vipers down? Were the Vees just that much better then Vernon? A very disappointing hockey game no matter what happened or who was to blame. Could tonight's game cost the Vipers 4th place? After Salmon Arm lost in Trail, Wenatchee losing in Victoria and the Warriors game cancelled, Vernon could have moved three points up on West Kelowna, a point up on Salmon Arm and moved to within four points of 3rd place Wenatchee. Vipers captain Jagger Williamson played career game #228 tonight is now only one game back of former Vernon Vipers forward Rob Short for second all-time on Vernon Junior Hockey's all-time games played list. Short from Vernon who's #20 was retired in 2010 played in 229 career games with the Vipers from 2005-2010. With the loss tonight Vernon falls to 23-20-7-3 remain in 5th place six points up on Trail, one point up on West Kelowna and one point back of Salmon Arm. The Warriors game in Powell River was cancelled tonight due to weather conditions. The Vipers have a tough three games in three days next weekend will finish the regular season with five games remaining.
Top Player's: (Penticton)
Evan McIntyre (2 goals) Played well at both ends of the rink.
Eric Linell (2 assists) Took a big check in the 3rd picked up two helpers, played well in the win.
Carson Kosobud (2 goals & 1 assist) The Penticton Vees defence had a heck of a game tonight. Kosobud added three points on a strong game from the blueline.
Brendan Harrogate (2 assists) Was involved in the play, going to the net, chipped in with two helpers.
Jack Lagerstrom (1 goal) I thought had a solid game at both ends of the rink.
Jack LaFontaine (33 saves) I thought kept the Vees in the contest during the opening frame. The Vipers with a ton of quality chances, couldn't solve the Vees starting goaltender who made some big stops during the first twenty minutes, keeping it a one goal game. If Vernon gets a goal or two in that 1st period, maybe this is a different hockey game. A bigger goaltender, plays big, covers a lot of the net, doesn't give up many second or third opportunities, is hard to beat one on one and has a very quick glove hand. Made two big glove saves this evening. I thought it was very interesting watching him during the media timeouts. LaFontaine doesn't go to the bench and join the rest of his team, instead he skates way out to the hashmarks and kneels on one knee the entire time, before going back to his crease.
Game Thought's: (Penticton)
The Vees jumped on the Vipers off the opening faceoff, opened the scoring just 1:38 into the second game of a home and home series but weren't the better of the two teams. As the 1st period continued I thought the Snakes were the better team and had a ton more opportunities. Jack LaFontaine made some big stops, keeping his hockey club in the game. It was the middle frame where the Vees score two quick back to back goals just fourteen seconds apart sucked the life out of Vernon who never recovered. Three quick goals in just over two minutes put the game away at that point. Penticton didn't get a ton of chances in that 2nd period rather capitalized on their opportunities and took advantage a struggling Bradley Cooper. After the 2nd period the Vees took their foot off the gas and basically coasted for the remainder of the 3rd period. At this point it wasn't much of a hockey game. Penticton's defence exploded offensively as four d-men put up seven points in the win. Fred Harbinson is now three wins away from 500. With the win Penticton improves to 34-14-2-2 sit atop of the Interior division are three points up on Merritt.
Ben Helgeson (Injured)
Assistant Coach Kevin Kraus
Peter Muzyka (Suspended)
Energy Player of the Game:
Teddy Wooding (1 goal)
1st Star: Carson Kosobud (2 goals & 1 assist)
2nd Star: Evan McIntyre (2 goals)
3rd Star: Connor Marritt