Was at tonights BCHL game as Vernon defeated Trail 2-0 in front of 1,956 fans at the Wesbild Centre.
1st Period: Some good flow to start tonight's game yet very few scoring chances at either ends of the rink. Both teams carried the play but couldnt seem to generate much of an offensive attack, some very solid defensive play coming from both teams. The Vipers were taking the body early, finishing there checks, laying out some solid hits. James Kerr showed the most energy in the early goings, laying out three-four checks, shwoing some good hustle. The Vipers were the first team to record a shot on net about six minutes into the opening period. Trail was really forechecking the Vernon d-men, in the early goings. Vernon on the powerplay had the best scoring chance just seconds into the man advantage, Braden Pimm made a nice pass out front from the corner, to a wide open Chris Crowell, Crowell was robbed in front as Paul Barclay made a huge pad save in close robbing the Vipers Captain. After the first or six minutes the Vipers really started to take control of the play, and continued to carry the play for most of the remainder of the 1st period. About seven minutes in, the Vipers got a shot off from the point, the puck was tipped in front, as the puck snuck inbehind Barclay laying in the crease, Mike Collins rushed the crease putting in the loose puck, giving Vernon the 1-0 lead. Vernon was now getting lots of shots on Barclay, moving the puck well down low, creating chances. Barclay had to be busy as the Vipers were up in shots at one point 10-1. Some nice three way passing by Vernon, Sahir Gill set up Ryan Santana who then set up Rob Short who was stoned in front by the pad of Barclay. The Vipers were buzzing in the Smoke Eaters zone, getting all kinds of chances, Vernon had atleast two or three tipped shots in close, but somehow Barclay made the save each time. Vernon dominated the period but only up 1-0 after 20 minutes of play. The Vipers outshot the Smoke Eaters 13-4.
2nd Period: Trail had a much better start to the middle frame, getting the puck in deep, and moving the puck well down low. The Smokies looked very sharpe jumping on the Vipers with some strong play in the Vernon zone. The Smokies come close to tying the game as Chad Gehon wired a shot from the point, Hammond was screened in front, but somehow made a pad save. The Smoke Eaters had some good jump, outplaying the Vipers in the early goings. Vernon struggled clearing the zone, as Trail had the better of the play for the first five or six minutes but couldnt tie the game. A shot from the point somehow got through Hammond and was lying in the crease, but Rob Short was there to clear the zone. The Vipers quit hitting, after playing a physical 1st period. The Vipers had a good energy shift, wich seemed to turn the tables and on the next play the line of Sahir Gill, Rob Short & Ryan Santana went to work once again. Gill made a nice pass at the Trail line to Santana, who then made the long pass up ice, to a wide open Rob Short who tipped the puck high and over Barclay, putting Vernon up 2-0 eight minutes into the 2nd. Shortly after the goal, Cody Ikkala dropped the gloves with Sean Nugent. Chris Crowell came very close to putting the Vipers up 3-0 but was robbed yet again by Barclay. Barclay looked very impressive all night. After a quick start to start the period the Smoke Eaters couldnt seem to generate much offence, getting a shot on net seven minutes into the period, and then not recording a shot on goal till just under four minutes remaining in the period. Vernons defence was solid not giving Trail any room or space to get anything towards the goal. Some scrambly play towards the end of the 2nd seemed to slow down the pace a little but Trail did come on strong in the final few minutes. The Smokies did give Vernon a scare getting some chances late but couldnt beat Andrew Hammond. Vernon was up 2-0 after 40 minutes of play. The Vipers outshot the Smoke Eaters 10-6.
3rd Period: Just a few minutes into the 3rd Vernon would get an early powerplay but it was Trail who would get the best scoring chance. CJ Legassic went in on the parcial breakaway with Steve Tresierra in chase, but Legassic couldnt get a good shot off as Hammond come up with the save. The Vipers struggled on the powerplay as the Smokies killed off the minor. Shortly after Sahir Gill had a great scoring chance, getting a low shot off from the circle as Barclay made the pad save, Gill looked very good out there tonight, getting all kinds of chances. Just minutes later Gill made a nice move around the net, going for the wrap around, the puck just about snuck inbheing Barclay. Vernon had the better of the play to start the 3rd but then some scrambly play took over as either team couldnt seem to control the play. In the second half Trail had some chances but couldnt beat Hammond. The Smokies couldnt get any traffic in front, as Hammond looked very focused seeing all shots. Sean Nugent took a low shot from the circle but Hammond was there for the pad save. The Smoke Eaters had some chances late in the period coming close a few times. Trail called a timeout with 1:58 left, and then got Barclay to the bench for the extra man with 1:22 remaining, the Smoke Eaters got the puck in deep, but the Vipers defence kept Trail to the outside, not giving up a shot. The Smokies did manage to get a few shots off, wich almost snuck passed Hammond. Three shots were taken from the corner where Hammond had to be sharpe, coming up with the tough save. Chris Crowell would get the puck out of his zone, Crowell fired the puck from center, trying to hit the empty net, the puck was close to going in, but Paul Mailey come rushing back into the play, sliding across the ice, swating at the puck, to keep it out. Mailey was the one who went crashing into the empty goal. With a faceoff deep in the Trail zone, Barclay was forced to head back between the pipes. The Smoke Eaters would get the puck back out and into the Vipers zone, as Barclay once again headed back to the bench for the extra man, with the clock winding down Trail would get one late chance in front but couldnt beat Hammond who recorded his second shutout of the season defeating Trail 2-0. This was Vernons first win against the Smokies as Trail holds the season series at 2-1. The Vipers have now won 9 games in a row. Trail outshot Vernon 9-5.
Top Players: (Vernon)
The line of Chris Crowell, Mike Collins & Braden Pimm played a heck of a game tonight. Mike Collins (1 goal) Played very well, looked good with the puck. Braden Pimm was skating hard, playing with some good jump all game. Pimm had a few good scoring chances. Captain Chris Crowell played a great game, Crowell was robbed on three great chances. Crowell played with an edge all night. Looked very good up front.
The line of Ryan Santana, Sahir Gill & Rob Short was by far Vernons best line. Rob Short (1 goal) Could have easily had two or three goals tonight. Short made a nice defensive save in the second to keep the Smoke Eaters off the scoreboard. Robbie played with alot of hustle, skating hard all night. Had a great scoring chance in the first but was robbed by Paul Barclay. Short looked very impressive on the PK as well, getting a few scoring chances while shorthanded. Sahir Gill looked very strong with the puck. Was hard to stop, showed some of his skill, with some nice soft hands in and around the goal. Nice to see Ryan Santana back in the lineup after missing the last three games. Santana looked very strong down low and with the puck. A real work horse, is hard to fight off the puck, showing it many times in front. Played with alot of hustle.
Kevin Kraus once again looked very solid on the backend. Kraus got involved in the play, joining in on the rush a few time. Made a few nice defensive plays to stop a scoring chance. Im very impressed with Kevins play over the last month or so.
James Kerr looked very good especially in the first two periods. Kerr gave the Vipers that energy and spark they needed from time to time. Kerr played a physical 1st laying out some good checks, played with alot of spark.
John Digness looked very good at both ends of the rink. Digness looked very impressive on the penalty kill.
Bryce Kakoske wasnt very noticable in the 1st or even to start the 2nd but I really noticed him step up his play late in the middle frame and come the 3rd.
Andrew Hammond didnt have many real tough saves in the first two periods but had some very tricky ones late in the 3rd.
Top Players: (Trail)
Graeme Strukoff looked very impressive on the Smokies blueline. This kid skates well, joins in on the rush and plays well at both ends of the rink. A very smooth skater who also handles the puck well.
Sean Nugent played well up front. Had a few chances especially in the 2nd and 3rd periods.
Chad Gehon skated well, had some chances through out tonights game. Was always around the Vipers goal.
Paul Barclay gave his team a chance to win, playing a heck of a game. Barclay was the difference and should have got a star. Without Barclay this could have been a different score and hockey game. Barclay made some unreal saves, robbing Chris Crowell three times, Rob Short a number of times, Sahir Gill & Braden Pimm. A smaller goaltender, but see's the play well. Very focused and confident. Dosnt give up any rebounds.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
The Vipers played a very well rounded game. Looked very good at both ends of the rink. If it wasnt for Barclay this could have been a different score and hockey game. The Vipers had some great chances in close. I was very impressed with the teams defence. Giving up just 4 shots in the 1st and then just 6 shots come the 2nd period. At times the Vipers defence wouldnt give up a shot on goal for a good 7-8 minutes. The defence kept the Smokies to the outside for most of the night, standing them up once they crossed the blueline. Most of Trails shots were from the outside. Vernon won most of the battles, coming out with the puck most of the night. Vernons cycle down low was too much for the Smoke Eaters, Trail couldnt seem to stop the Vipers down low, when with the puck. The Vipers were skating hard all night, come up with some highlite real plays on some wild scoring chances. A good hockey game overall. Vipers move back to within one pt of 1st place Salmon Arm with the win.
Game Thoughts: (Trail)
Trail didnt look all that great in the first, depended on Barclay to bail then out. The Smoke Eaters couldnt seem to generate much of an attack, getting just 4 shots on net. Trail turned things around come the 2nd period but couldnt tie the game after some solid pressure within the first 5-6 minutes. I thought the Smoke Eaters were more of a threat when they played with that aggresive forecheck, when they backed off the forecheck, they were as effective. Then seemed to allow the Vipers back into the game. Had some chances in the 3rd but couldnt get much through the Vernon defence. Trails a good skating team, but didnt look as good as there first visit to Vernon. Trail had there chances but couldnt hit the back of the net.
1st Star: Rob Short (1 goal)
2nd Star: Chris Crowell
3rd Star: Braden Pimm