I was at tonights BCHL game as Penticton defeated Vernon 6-2 in front of 1,966 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Vernon: Kirby Halcrow
Penticton: Michael Garteig
1st Period: Both teams seemed to get off to a bit of a slow start, as it looked as if both hockey clubs were trying to feel one another out in the opening few minutes. Both coaches were really matching lines, as about two or three line changes were made just in the first minute or so of the opening period. The Vipers would get the games first good scoring opportunity within the first minute and a half after Adam Tambellini was alone in front but the puck hopped over his stick at the last second. The Vees would open the scoring early on their first opportunity of the night after Curtis Loik come down the right wing, snapped off a quick shot from the circle that was stopped by Kirby Halcrow who gave up the rebound, Loik collected his own rebound and beat Halcrow at 2:26 giving Penticton a 1-0 lead. Mark McLellan with the only assist. The Vipers would bounce back and just shortly after setup Aaron Hadley who was alone in the slot but again the puck took a late bounce just going over Hadleys stick on another Viper scoring opportunity. The Vipers kept coming and carried the better of the play in the opening period. Vernon with some good pressure didnt get alot of good scoring opportunities as the Vees defence did a great job at keeping the Vernon shooters to the outside, any shot directed Michael Garteigs way was easily stopped. The Vees with very little pressure in the Vipers zone, would finally get the play in deep, Mike Reillys point shot was tipped in front by Grant Nicholson who beat Kirby Halcrow at 8:12 giving Penticton a 2-0 lead, Reilly with the lone helper on the goal. Back come Vernon and once again with some pressure deep inside the Penticton zone Marcus Basara with a chance in close couldnt beat Garteig. Penticton would then get the games first powerplay, the Vipers penalty kill was fairly good but late in the man advantage, captain Joey Benik with a shot from the circle was stopped by Kirby Halcrow who made a nice pad save as Vernon would kill off the minor. Just seconds later the Vipers would get their first man advantage of the night, Vernon with some good pressure moved the puck well but was unable to record a single shot on the powerplay as the Vees killed off the minor. Late in the 1st Mike Zalewski and Troy Stetcher exchanged a few jabs with one another in front of Michael Garteig before the two veterans were yapping back and forth with one another. Both players exchanged words and a few shots with one another over the next shift as tempers heated up a little between two veteran players. The Vipers who carried most of the play didnt have much puck luck. Vernon with only a few real good scoring chances were down 2-0. Penticton who didnt show alot of offence in the opening period, had just three chances of their own capitalized on their scoring opportunities going up 2-0 after 20 minutes of play. Vernon outshot Penticton 10-9.
2nd Period: The Vipers would get off to a quick start, moving the puck well generating some open allowed Adam Tambellini some room in front where he roofed his shot upstairs high over Garteig getting Vernon on the board at 2:09, Tambellini's goal was unassisted. The Vipers kept coming with some pressure down low, Marcus Basara couldnt beat Michael Garteig who made a nice save in close. Penticton would then get an early powerplay, moving the puck well the Vees setup Steven Fogarty down low who drove to the net hard, waited for Halcrow to go down and then ripped his shot high and over the shoulders of Kirby Halcrow giving the Vees a 3-1 lead at 7:07, former Trail Smoke Eaters forward, Travis St. Denis and Troy Stetcher collected the assists. On the next shift Vernon would get a shot with the man advantage but the Vipers powerplay struggled, the Vees were really forcing the Vipers as Vernon had all kinds of troubles getting the puck into the Vees zone. Penticton would easily kill off the minor. Just after the powerplay the Vees would get a three on one, Grant Nicholson, Mark McLellan and Curtis Loik on the odd man rush but Loik couldnt get off a shot as a Vipers defenceman hustled back to break up the play. Penticton showing a little more offence in the 2nd period played much better as both teams were fairly even this period. Kirby Halcrow had to be sharp after making two or three real nice glove saves. Not alot of scoring opportunities at either ends of the arena. Travis St. Denis would appear to be in a little discomfort after a faceoff draw deep in the Vernon zone, St. Denis would clear the zone in some pain before heading to the Vees bench to get looked at. St. Denis who would come back from the dressing room with a taped wrist would stay and finish the hockey game. On his next shift he would head straight to the penalty box giving the Vipers another powerplay. The Vees would kill off the minor as Penticton would take a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes of play. A much more even played period with very little chances at both ends of the rink. Vernon outshot Penticton 8-7.
3rd Period: The Vees would start the 3rd on the powerplay, wich was carried over from the final minute of the 2nd period. With Penticton on the man advantage the Vees would get an early two man advantage as Vernon would get into some penalty trouble early to start the final frame. A strong penalty kill by the Vipers and Vernon would kill off the two man advantage. Shortly after Marcus Basara who played very well for the Vipers would carry the play in deep, creating some room wich allowed Aaron Hadley to move in front and beat Garteif fivehole at 5:14 making this a one goal game. Hadleys goal was unassisted. But just two minutes later Brett Corkey would appear in some discomfort, as Corkey was trying to get off the ice Halcrow looked to have been bumped and knocked over as the Vipers were running around trying to cover the open crease the Vees with two shots got the puck back to the point where Zach Urban hit the empty cage at 7:14 giving Penticton a 4-1 lead, Mario Lucia would pick up the lone helper on the goal. Corkey seemed alright and would finish the hockey game. Vipers head coach-gm, Jason Williamson was steaming giving it to referee Kevin Bennett. Williamson and the Vipers would take a bench minor and send Penticton to the powerplay. Moving the puck well the Vees created some open ice, Travis St. Denis's shot was stopped by Kirby Halcrow who couldnt handle the rebound allowing Mario Lucia all alone in front to burry the loose puck past Halcrow at 8:26 giving the Vees a 5-2 lead, St. Denis and Joey Benik collected the assists. Willamson and the Vipers bench was steaming after the goal-penalty. This was the end of the night for Vernon as now time was not on their side. Penticton would head right back to the powerplay as the Vipers would take another penalty. Vernon would kill off the minor as now the Vees were really forcing the Vipers in the neutral zone not giving them any time or space to try and setup. Both teams looked to settle down and just want to wind down the clock. The Vipers would get a late powerplay, calling a timeout and then getting Halcrow to the bench for the extra attacker Vernon was unable to really get much going before Curtis Loik pressuring the Viper d-man, scooped up the loose puck and then hit the emty net at 18:56 giving Penticton a 6-2 lead. After a huge penalty kill to start the 3rd the Vipers with an early goal got to within one but then couldnt recover after a quick Vees goal and the rest is history. Penticton with all the powerplays carried the better of the play for most of the period. With the loss the Vipers drop to 7-2 and move into 2nd place in the Interior Conference standings while the Vees move to 7-1-0-1 and into top spot in the Interior Conference. The Vees outshot the Vipers 14-7.
Top Players: (Vernon)
The line of Adam Tambellini (1 goal), Marcus Basara and Aaron hadley (1 goal) was the Vipers best line. Tambellini who looked slow and a little sluggish to start the contest seemed to get and play better as the game went along. Hadley really played hard, used his physical play and come up with some chances. Basara was by far the best Vernon player, showed lots of jump-energy, was really hustling and skating hard all night. Created some chances as well as had a few chances himself. This line was very good.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
After starting the young season 7-0 the Vipers have now dropped back to back games being outscored 10-3. This was not a 6-2 game and a much closer game then the final score. I thought Vernon desereved a much better fait in the end. The Vipers who carried the better of the play looked good and were the better of the two teams in the opening period but were down 2-0. Vernon who didnt get a bounce or had troubles creating some scoring opportunities only gave the Vees three scoring chances and two wound up in the back of their net. I thought the Vipers played well in the 2nd but again didnt get alot of scoring opportunities. A huge penalty kill to start the 3rd and then a quick goal gets the team to within a goal before the Vees seem to get away with a goaltender interference call and come right back two minutes later going ahead 4-2 and the Vees never really looked back. I thought the Vipers battled and competed and played a very good road game but just didnt get the bounces or lucky breaks. I watched Fridays 4-1 loss in Chilliwack over the internet and what concerns me a little is that for the second straight game Vernon has had troubles creating and getting scoring chances. I thought the Vipers powerplay didnt look so hot tonight. The Vipers seemed to get within a goal but couldnt seem to keep the puck out of the net, allowing the Vees to re-gain their two goal lead within minutes. Will see what the coaches and this team are made of, as both these two teams will have a rematch Friday in Vernon.
Top Players: (Penticton)
Mario Lucia (1 goal & 1 assist) I thought looked fairly good at times. A bigger kid that really skates well and moves the puck quickly.
Curtis Loik (2 goals) I thought was the Vees best player tonight. Seemed to really slow the game down when he had control of the puck, reads and sees the ice very well. Was always in and around the net.
Mike Reilly (1 assist) Played very well on the Vees blueline. Was very steady and also good with the puck.
Troy Stetcher (1 assist) Played very well defensively for Penticton. Played with an edge, got involved with Mike Zalewski towards the end of the 1st period as both players exchanged a few jabs and words with one another.
Game Thoughts: (Penticton)
Over the summer and heading into training camp rumors going around saying that Penticton is the team to beat this coming season, watch out! Tonight was my first chance at seeing the Vees play and I thought they played well but wasnt overly impressed. Now its only one game but I didnt see alot of run and gun offence. The Vees have a fairly big team that moves the puck well and scores-capitalizes on their opportunities. I also liked the Vees defence who I thought did a great job at shutting down the Vipers skill and depth up front. For the second straight game Vernon was unable to really get alot of real good scoring opportunities. I thought the Vees kept the Vipers to the outside for most of the night as Michael Garteig was able to see everything. Give the Vees credit they scored when needed and played well defensively, not giving up alot of scoring chances. Looking at the scoreboard the Vees do have alot of skill and depth as they can put the puck in the net, I just didnt see alot of offensive weapons tonight. Overall there wasnt alot of excitement wich made for one of the more less exciting Vernon-Penticton games. The Vees have new home and away jerseys this season. I like the looks of the new home jerseys, added some black and got away from the previous home white-practise looking jersey.
Patrick McGillis (Injured)
Nick Amies (Injured)
Logan Johnston (Suspended)
1st Star: Curtis Loik (2 goals)
2nd Star: Mario Lucia (1 goal & 1 assist)
3rd Star: Zach Urban (1 goal)
For more on tonight's game check out the boxscore,