I was at tonight's Vipers-Silverbacks game as Vernon defeated Salmon Arm 2-0 in front of 1,143 fans at the Shaw Centre.
Vernon: Reilly Herbst
Salmon Arm: Ethan Langenegger
1st Period: Off the opening puck drop Jackson Caller took a high stick from Coalson Wolford along the wall in front of the penalty box just nine seconds into the hockey game. Caller didn't like the high stick, gave Coalson a shot before the two exchanged words and some pushing and shoving occurred. Both players were given two minute minors. The Vipers would jump on the hometown Silverbacks early and often and carry the play for the first few minutes. Vernon with a ton of pressure early controlled the play in the offensive zone but no real chances before Nick Unruh lead the attack with an odd man rush about three minutes in. Unruh setup Noah Wakeford on the two on one, but instead of shooting, Wakeford decided to pass back to Unruh who was no where near the puck and the odd man rush was broken up on a missed opportunity by Salmon Arm. The Snakes carried the play back up ice, with a strong forecheck down low, Viper captain/forward Connor Marritt spotted Elan Bar-Lev-Wise who beat Ethan Langenegger high glove under the bar, giving Vernon an early lead at 3:32 Marritt collected the lone assist. Bar-Lev-Wise's first goal of the season with the monkey off his back. The Snakes kept coming and coming in waves with a ton of pressure in the offensive zone would eventually get the games first power play minutes after opening the scoring. Vernon struggled with the man advantage as the Apes killed off the minor. Around the midway mark Luke Mylymok one on one beat his defender was able to get two quick shots low along the ice, that were stopped by Reilly Herbst. This was Salmon Arm's first shot of the hockey game as Vernon was outshooting the Silverbacks 10-1 at this point. About a minute and a half later, the Vipers come within inches of going ahead by two after Connor Sleeth beat Ethan Langenegger at the top of the blue paint, but not the post on a good net presence from Sleeth. With about three and a half minutes remaining Jackson Caller's point shot beat Ethan Langenegger but not the post. On the following play/shift the Silverbacks would get a late PP there first of the night. Former Backs d-man Landon Fuller receive two minutes for cross-checking and a ten minute misconduct. The Gorillas with good pressure on the man advantage, had several looks but none better then Coalson Wolford who was denied in front by Reilly Herbst. Shorthanded Matt Kowalski lead the two on one, setup Connor Marritt who looked to have a tap in, somehow hit the bottom of the post on a glorious opportunity. The S'Backs catch another break. Vernon with a big penalty kill, killed off the minor. It was 1-0 Vernon after 20 minutes of play. The Snakes were the better of the two teams for most of this period. Vernon with a great start on the road, got off to a quick start jumped on SA early and often. The Vipers dominated the first half had all kinds of pressure, created/generated loads of opportunities in the period. The Snakes hit three posts couldn't catch a break. The Apes spent almost the entire first ten minutes in there own end, played a little better in the second half, needed ten minutes to record there first shot on goal. Shots were 10-0 for Vernon at one point but the Silverbacks outshot the Vipers 8-3 in the final ten minutes. A feisty game between two teams that played in Vernon last weekend. Lots of chirping on the ice and between benches and a few scrums in and around the whistles. The Snakes could have easily been up by a few goals if it wasn't for hitting three posts. Vernon outshot Salmon Arm 13-8.
2nd Period: Thirty seconds into the middle frame, Jackson Caller and Luke Mylymok were battling at the side of the net, both players got there sticks up before the referee was yelling at both players to continue playing. The two kept battling before Caller dropped his gloves and took the first swing. I dont recall a fight for the Vipers this year? Both Caller & Mylymok would receive five minutes for fighting and game misconducts. The S'Backs jumped on the Snakes early and often and carried the early edge in play. It was all Salmon Arm early off the opening faceoff. About five minutes in with a ton of pressure, Vipers starting goaltender Reilly Herbst was forced to make a big stop with bodies in front before forced to make at least two or three more large saves on a goal mouth scramble at the top of the crease. The Backs very close to tying the contest couldn't solve the Vernon netminder. Just past the midway mark, SA would get there first and only power play of the 2nd period. The Silverbacks with good puck possession had some looks/chances but couldn't beat Reilly Herbst as Vernon killed off the minor. Just as the penalty expired, second year Viper forward Logan Cash setup Dawson Holt out of the penalty box on an odd man rush, but Holt would be denied in front by Silverbacks starting goaltender Ethan Langenegger. Killing off the minor looked to give the Snakes a jolt in the arm for whatever reason, the Vipers gained momentum and pushed back with a hard shift and some quality chances. A minute after Holt's opportunity, Vernon product Matt Kowalski would get behind the Salmon Arm defence but be denied by Ethan Langenegger on a large stop, before Jack Glen on a glorious opportunity beat Langenegger but rang his shot off the crossbar with the Snakes pressing. With Vernon pouring on the attack/pressure, the Vipers had at least two or three quality looks/chances in and around the goal but couldn't beat Ethan Langenegger. As the play continued and the goaltender down, Dawson Holt wired a shot from well out into the open cage, giving Vernon a 2-0 lead at 16:03 Jack Glen and Matt Kowalski collected the helpers. Ethan Langenegger had no support or help from his defence who couldn't clear the zone, left there goaltender out to dry. In a period where it had been all Gorillas this was a huge goal for the Vipers. It was 2-0 Vernon after 40 minutes of play. A completely different hockey game compared to the opening period. It's like both teams switched jerseys. I thought the Apes were the better of the two teams, especially in the first half. It was all SA the first half, carried most of the play, had more puck possession and played a lot of the first ten minutes in the offensive zone. The Silverbacks carried the play, had lots of looks and some goal mouth scrambles, but not a lot of grade "A" chances. The Silverbacks needed more bodies in front and needed to go to the grey area a little more. Vernon with only two shots on goal in the first half, played a lot of the first ten minutes or so in there own end. The Snakes played a little better in the second half, seemed to turn the tables and gain some momentum after killing off the lone penalty of the 2nd period. The Vipers with a good push back after killing off Dawson Holt's minor, responded with some very good opportunities before scoring there second goal of the evening. How big was Dawson Holt's goal late in the period? Instead of heading to the 3rd leading 1-0 on the road, it's now 2-0. You have to give Vernon's defence some credit, for limiting the S'Backs opportunities and clearing the front of the net, allowing Reilly Herbst to see the shot/puck. Salmon Arm outshot Vernon 16-9.
3rd Period: About a minute and a half into the final frame, Hunter Donohoe turned over the puck inside his own blueline allowed Daniel Rybarik to get a good shot off in close on a good look/opportunity but couldn't solve Reilly Herbst. The Viper netminder with a large save early into the 3rd period. Matt Kowalski lead the attack early on a two on one, setup Connor Marritt on a glorious feed would be robbed by Ethan Langenegger who made the stop with his goal stick as the stick went flying into the corner. Two big stops at both ends of the rink early. Cameron MacDonald took a heavy hit along the side wall in his own end, looked to be in some discomfort heading off the ice, went to the Viper dressing room but returned. Shortly after MacDonald would take another big hit almost in the same spot of the rink and this time didn't return. Well at least I didn't see him on the bench or ice for the remainder of the game. Vernon would get an early PP about five minutes in but couldn't capitalize with the man advantage. The Vipers thought they had scored about seven minutes into the period, after Ethan Langenegger made a large glove save off I think Connor Marritt? It looked like Langenegger's glove went back into the net, even though he made the save. The Vipers were celebrating like they had scored. The officials had a quick discussion but said no goal. Shortly after SA would get a power play just before the halfway mark. Reilly Herbst with a few big stops with the Apes pressing, as the Snakes killed off the minor. With about six and a half minutes remaining Ben Helgeson would get a partial breakaway but couldn't put the game away would be stopped in tight. With just over two minutes left in the hockey game, the Gorillas got Ethan Langenegger to the bench for the extra attacker. With 2:08 remaining Reilly Herbst sprawled across the blue paint, to rob a Silverbacks forward with the glove, on a highlight reel save. Salmon Arm would call a timeout and be forced to send Ethan Langenegger back between the pipes. The Backs netminder would get back to the bench for the extra attacker. I don't recall who, but the Snakes had a good look at the open cage from just inside the blueline, but Coalson Wolford played goal, making the stop and kept the game 2-0. The Silverbacks pressed hard to the finish would eventually run out of time as Vernon hung on for the 2-0 victory. I thought the Backs carried a lot of the play at times but I think with Vernon up 2-0 the Vipers may have been playing a little more of a defensive game. At times the play really opened up and both teams went back and fourth. The Apes may have had more edge in play, but just like the 2nd period Salmon Arm didn't really generate a lot of great opportunities. Most of the Backs shots were from well out and little to no traffic in front. The Silverbacks did manage a few good looks/chances but couldn't solve Reilly Herbst. The Snakes also had some quality chances of there own, but couldn't beat Ethan Langenegger. Both goaltenders played well tonight. For a second straight period, the Viper defence did a good job at limiting SA's chances and cleared the front of the net. Salmon Arm outshot Vernon 10-9.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Hunter Donohoe For a second straight game played very well on the Viper blueline. He turned over the puck once tonight, but was bailed out by his goaltender. I really like this kid and think he's been a great addition to the lineup.
Matt Kowalski (1 assist) Has been the Vipers most consistent forward this season. Had a strong game in the loss to Surrey Friday night, had another strong game tonight. This kid never quits skating, plays hard, competes, finds his space and creates/generates opportunities. Is always going to the net and making things happen. Kowalski and Connor Marritt had two odd man rushes but couldn't find the back of the net, played well together tonight. These two have found chemistry together and seem to always know where the other is.
Connor Marritt (1 assist) Looked good/played very well in the win. Hit the post on a 1st period two on one and was robbed of a goal on a 3rd period odd man rush. A smooth skater has really come into his own this season and also been one of the more consistent players this year.
Jack Glen (1 assist) For the first time this season, I can honestly say Glen contributed and played fairly well. For the first time I have seen where he battled, competed and generated some chances. He took a few heavy hits, but also finished his checks and wasn't afraid to go into the corners. Had a good look in the 2nd period, before ringing his shot off the crossbar. Played with some jump and seemed to have some energy in his game.
Dawson Holt (1 goal) Played well, was going to the net, had some looks and created some chances through out the game. Scored a big goal late in the 2nd period shortly after the Snakes killed off a penalty.
Keigo Hachisuka saw more ice time after Jackson Caller was tossed from the game early in the 2nd period. The rookie defender stepped in and played very well on Vernon's backend. For whatever reason, the Silverbacks were either chirping him or giving him little jabs or shots after the whistle. I don't know if he was getting under there skin but he had there attention.
Nicholas Kent I thought was another defenceman who played well.
Elan Bar-Lev-Wise (1 goal) Opened the scoring/scored the game winner, finally got the monkey off his back, with his first goal of the season. Played with a lot of jump/energy, was really skating hard tonight, winning the battles and competing.
Reilly Herbst (34 saves) For his first career BCHL shutout. Improves to 11-2 in 15 games this season. Was forced to make a few difficult saves along side a few game savers but overall looked very dialed in, seemed to be in the zone all night. Wasn't tested often but made the big stops when called apon. Was seeing almost everything. A lot of Salmon Arm's shots were from well out with little to no traffic. Where would the Snakes be without this kid? A huge pickup early in the season.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
I really liked the Snakes game tonight from start to finish. Sure they were outplayed for most of the first half of the 2nd period but did a good job at defending the goal and making sure Reilly Herbst was seeing pucks. Vernon had a great start and didn't led up for most of the opening period, could have easily been up by three or four goals if it wasn't for hitting three posts in the 1st period. The Vipers were making plays and making lots of plays through out the game. The Snakes created/generated some quality chances, had lots of good looks around the net. I also liked the defensive side of there game. I thought Vernon's defence limited the S'Backs opportunities, cleared the front of the net and forced Salmon Arm to shoot from well out. The Viper defence did a great job at keeping SA away from the front of the blue paint. I thought the Vipers were the better team. Everyone looked ready and come to play tonight and the kids played very hard in a tough rink, with a big crowd, where the Gorillas have been very good this season. Once again scoring has been a big problem and it showed again tonight. The Snakes couldn't catch a break, hit three posts and a crossbar and could have put this game away in the 1st period. The Snakes had the better chances and more quality chances compared to Salmon Arm. After a very disappointing loss last night to Surrey, it was nice to see the boys respond with a great effort/win on the road vs a solid Salmon Arm team. The Vipers are 2-0 vs the Silverbacks this season. With the BCHL card deadline tomorrow, will we see any roster moves/trades? A great turnout of Viper fans in the building tonight, made a lot of noise when the Vipers scored. The Vipers snap a two game losing streak, have lost three of there last five games, have three wins in there last nine games and five wins in there last thirteen games. With the win Vernon improves to 15-12-1-1 sit 5th in the Interior division are two points back of 4th place Wenatchee, eight points back of 3rd place Salmon Arm and ten points back of 2nd place Trail.
Top Player's: (Salmon Arm)
Ethan Langenegger (29 saves) Was very solid between the pipes for the hometown Silverbacks. Got lucky after the Vipers hit three posts and a crossbar, was forced into making some big stops through out the contest. Both goaltenders played very well.
Jayden Price didn't see a lot of ice time but played with a lot of jump/energy.
Luke Mylymok Didn't have a name bar on his jersey, but impressed me early until given a game misconduct for his fight with Jackson Caller. Not the biggest kid, but quick on his feet, had a lot of jump/energy, was making plays happen and hard to contain/defend against.
Nick Unruh Played a hard fought game, didn't really have any scoring chances but had some good looks, that were either blocked or hit something or somebody in front and didn't get through to the net. I thought worked/and competed hard, really battled in and around the net. This kid is a work horse.
Coalson Wolford Played very well, seemed to be all over the ice, was always involved in the play, had some very good looks/chances, some of the more quality opportunities from Salmon Arm. This kid couldn't catch a break, but never quit skating/competing.
Game Thought's: (Salmon Arm)
The Silverbacks outshot Vernon and carried a little more of the play in the final two periods but I still think the Snakes were the better of the two teams. The Apes didn't get off to the start they wanted but seemed to settle down as the 1st period continued and played a little better in the final ten minutes. SA was lucky to only be down a goal after twenty minutes. The Silverbacks with a very strong start to the middle frame, really needed a goal in that 2nd period where they fired sixteen shots towards Vernon's goal. The Gorillas like the Snakes couldn't catch a break/or get a bounce. The Backs had the edge in shots in the final two periods but a lot of there shots were from well out with little to no traffic in front of Reilly Herbst. I think the Silverbacks needed to drive to the net more, go to those grey areas and get in the head of Vernon's netminder. Herbst was seeing almost everything and your not going to beat a goaltender like him on a shot from well out with no traffic in front. I think Salmon Arm could have played with a bit more edge, throw in some physical play and try and get the Snakes off there game. Don't get me wrong the S'Backs played hard, competed and had some good looks but not a lot. After only losing to Vernon once during the regular season last year, the Silverbacks are now 0-2 vs Vernon this season. Overall this was a very exciting and entertaining hockey game in front of a large crowd. Nice to see the fans back in the building and showing some excitement this season. The Silverbacks and there fans went through some lean years with previous ownership. Tonight was only Salmon Arm's fifth loss at home. After getting off to a hot start and leading the division the Backs have dropped to 3rd and gone in a bit of a slump. The Silverbacks have been busy recently making several roster moves/trades, now I have to wonder how this has sat well with the players and team chemistry? Is this why they have gone in a bit of a funk as of late? Salmon Arm has lost five straight, has lost seven of there last ten games. With the loss Salmon Arm falls to 19-10-1-1 sit 3rd in the Interior division are six points up on 4th place Wenatchee, but two points back of 2nd place Trail and seven points back of division leading Penticton.
Ben Sanderson (Injured)
Ryan Shostak (Injured)
Max Palaga (Injured)
Energy Player of the Game:
1st Star: Reilly Herbst (34 saves-First career BCHL shutout)
2nd Star: Ethan Langenegger (29 saves)
3rd Star: Elan Bar-Lev-Wise (1 goal)
I have picked a victory song for the Vernon Vipers this season. After every victory this season, I will play Tarzan Boy by Baltimora
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Here are some photo's I took before and during tonight's Vipers-Silverbacks game.