I was at tonight's BCHL game as Penticton defeated Penticton 6-1 in front of 1,390 fans at the Wesbild Centre.
Vernon: Kirby Halcrow
Penticton: Michael Garteig
1st Period: The Vipers come out hitting off the opening faceoff with two or three good checks along the wall in the Vees zone, wich allowed Aaron Hadley to try a wrap around in the opening minute but Michael Geteig stuck with the play, got the pads down and kept Hadley and the Vipers off the scoreboard on the games first scoring chance. On Pentictons first rush of the night, Curtis Loik stepped over the Vipers blueline and snapped a quick low shot that was stopped by Kirby Halcrow who had to be sharp making a nice pad save. Halcrow had to be sharp early as the Vees won back to back faceoffs in the Vernon zone, getting off two quick shots from in close both stopped by Halcrow as the Viper goaltender had to be careful on the rebound covering up the puck and stopping the play. Shortly after Marcus Basara coming out of his own end coughed up the puck allowing, Steven Fogarty a parcial breakaway ripping a low harmless looking shot that beat Kirby Halcrow fivehole giving the Vees a 1-0 lead at 6:57 on a goal that Halcrow would like to have back. Fogartys goal was unassisted. On the next play Ryan Renz went head first into the end boards deep in the Vernon zone, Renz was slow to get up and needed some help getting off the ice. Renz would leave the hockey game but was seen leaving the rink on a stretcher. Shortly after the Vees would get the first of three straight powerplays. The Vees moving the puck around had the Vipers pinned in their own end for most of the powerplay before Penticton captain, Joey Benik fed Mario Lucia who beat Halcrow at 9:18 giving Penticton a 2-0 lead. Benik and Mike Reilly collected the helpers. The Vees would head right back on the man advantage, once again moving the puck well the Vees this powerplay were unable to generate much offence until former Trail Smoke Eater Travis St. Denis was robbed by Kirby Halcrow at the side of the net making a huge glove save with just ten seconds remaining on the powerplay as Vernon would excape and kill off the minor. The Vees would get their third straight powerplay but couldnt capitalize as the Vees would get their first penalty of the night as both teams played a little four on four. Shortly after Ryan Reilly and Travis St. Denis would break out on a two on one as the Vees couldnt hit the net on a great scoring chance. Vernon with just five shots the entire period didnt generate much offence. Late in the period Penticton would get their fourth powerplay of the night, Some nice passing creating some open ice allowed Steven Fogarty to setup former Salmon Arm Silverback forward, Bryce Gervais in front who beat Halcrow fivehole giving the Vees a 3-0 lead at 16:25 on a goal Halcrow may want to have back. Fogarty and Joey Benik with the assists. The Vees who looked like they had the puck on a string most of the 1st looked very dangerous tonight and were had to defend against. Penticton carried the better of the play and were up 3-0 after 20 minutes of play. The Vees outshot the Vipers 13-5.
2nd Period: Not much action to start the middle frame. The Vees would get a great chance about five minutes into the period coming out on a two on one but the Vees couldnt control the puck and didnt get a shot off. Mike Zalewski would come out of the corner before snapping a quick shot from the circle that was stopped by Michael Garteig who made a nice blocker save. Garteig didnt have alot of tough saves to make tonight. Vernon would get their first powerplay of the night past the midway mark, Mike Zalewski with a great chance from the circle beat Garteig but hit the post or the outside of the post as it was hard to see from my angle. This was the Vipers only real good scoring chance as Pentictons penalty kill was good killing off the minor. Steven Fogarty who looked very good up front for the Vees come up with a huge shot block towards the end of the Vees penalty kill. Just over two minutes later Penticton would get another shot with the man advantage and once again capitalize. The Vees who once again looked to have the puck on a string moved the puck around as the Vipers were caught standing around, Mike Zalewski was levelled inside the Vipers blueline as the Vees kept the play alive before Connor Reilly setup a wide open Mike Reilly who beat a diving Kirby Halcrow giving the Vees a 4-0 lead at 16:15 Connor Reilly and Mario Lucia picked up the helpers on the goal. Penticton carried most of the play, as the Vipers couldnt seem to breakout of their own end. The Vipers with very little chances turned over the puck several times. Travis St. Denis with a great chance walked into the slot before ripping his shot just missing the far corner. In the final seconds Alex Hagen setup Aaron Hadley on a two on one but Michael Garteig made a nice save in close keeping Vernon and Aaron Hadley off the scoreboard. A little scrum formed inside the Vipers blueline wich Vernon would take a penalty at the buzzer sending the Vees back to the powerplay to start the 3rd. The Vees carried the better of the play but didnt have alot of good scoring chances. Penticton outshot Vernon 14-10.
3rd Period: The Vees opened the final frame with the man advantage but a pretty good penalty kill by Vernon would kill off the minor. Ryan Reilly with a great chance in front was stopped by Kirby Halcrow. Both teams started off a little slow before Penticton slowly started to take over the period. The Vipers who had troubles all night finding their offence mustered just one shot in the first half of the 3rd. The Vees would get a powerplay just past the midway mark, Troy Stetcher setup Bryce Gervais for his second of the night giving Penticton a 5-0 lead at 10:49, Stetcher and Michael Garteig collected the assists. On the next play the Vipers would get a powerplay as Connor Hartley with a chance at the side of the goal couldnt connect on the pass. Penticton would kill off the minor. Hartley would get atleast two or three chances at the side of the goal in the 3rd but couldnt find the back of the net. I didnt notice John Knisley after the 2nd period who didnt see a shift or wasnt on the Vipers bench for the 3rd period. Frustration was showing on the Vernon Vipers side after taking a few undisaplined penalties late giving the Vees a late powerplay wich they couldnt captalize on. Late in the 3rd the Vees put a stamp on the game after Joey Benik on a parcial breakaway wired a lazer of a shot that beat Halcrow upstairs giving Penticton a 6-0 lead at 15:22, Connor Reilly with the lone assist. The Vipers would break Michael Garteigs shutout bid with just fourty six seconds remaining after Vernon product, Jedd Soleway beat Garteig with a pile of bodies in front of the Vees net. Max Mowat with the only assist on the goal. With thirty four seconds remaining, Curtis Loik, Ryan Reilly and Connor Reilly on a three on one couldnt beat Halcrow who made a nice save. In the end the Penticton Vees would knock off the Vipers 6-1 in a pretty convincing victory. Penticton outshot Vernon 8-5.
Top Players: (Vernon)
Mike Zalewski with two maybe three chances was most of the Vipers offence tonight. Zalewski come close to scoring in the 2nd after hitting the outside of the post or post on a Vipers powerplay.
Jedd Soleway showed some hustle and battled hard most of the night.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
The Vipers returned home from a 1-3 road trip have now lost four straight games for the first time this season and the first time in several years that I can recall. Vernon who is now 1-3 against Penticton this season wasnt in tonights game and was outplayed for most of the hockey game by a much stronger, more skilled Penticton Vees club. In the three of the four meetings between these two teams the Vees have jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. The Vipers who had to try and battle back tonight are a few players behind the Penticton Vees and just cant compete against the top team in the league. Vernon with lots of turnovers couldnt generate much offence all night. The Vipers with just five shots in the 1st and 3rd periods were beat by a very strong hockey club. Vernon is missing three players due to injury but just dont have the same skill level that can keep up with the Vees for a 60 minute game. With the Vipers riding a three game losing streak before tonights game, lots of grumblings going on at the rink with some very unhappy Viper fans. With just eight days until the December 1st BCHL card deadline, you have to wonder if the Vipers will make any moves? Former Vipers captains Kevin Kraus and David Robinson as well as Bryce Kakoske were at tonights game.
Top Players: (Penticton)
The Reilly brothers: Mike Reilly (1 goal and 1 assist), Connor Reilly (1 assist) and Ryan Reilly all looked very strong up front for the Vees tonight. Ryan and Connor generated lots of offence and moved the puck well, while Mike played very well on the blueline, jumping up into the play when needed.
Joey Benik (1 goal & 2 assists) who is the Vees captain until Logan Johnston returns from his suspension looked good up front.
Mario Lucia (1 goal & 1 assist) also looked very strong for the Penticton Vees tonight. A very good skater, really reads and see's the ice well. Very dangerous with and without the puck.
Curtis Loik I was impressed with and thought played well for the Vees. Had atleast two good scoring chances.
Bryce Gervais (2 goals) I didnt notice alot but scored twice for Penticton now has seven points in just three games since coming over in a trade with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Steven Fogarty (1 goal & 1 assist) Was the Vees best player tonight. I thought Fogarty was very good with and without the puck, really strong with the puck and very dangerous down low and in and around the net.
Game Thoughts: (Penticton)
From the start of training camp rumors were going around that the Penticton Vees are the team to beat and now almost halfway through the BCHL season the Vees are slowly pulling away in the Interior Conference standings. Penticton who has now won seven straight is 3-1 against Vernon with a re-match next week in the Peach City. The Vees who lead the league in scoring showed their skills tonight. This game was over after the opening period, the Vees looked like they had the puck on a string most of the night, very dangerous at all times and can roll four solid lines. Michael Garteig who lost his shutout with just fourty six seconds remaining didnt see alot of rubber tonight making alot of routine saves with no traffic in front. Give the Vees credit after a 7-1 loss to the Vipers back in early November Penticton showed whos boss tonight, carrying the better of the play and outplayed and outworked the Vipers for most of tonights contest. This team is very skilled and played well defensively keeping the Vipers to just twenty shots.
Patrick McGillis (Injured)
Colton Sparrow (Injured)
Luke Juha (Injured)
Nick Amies (Injured)
Logan Johnston (Suspended)
Vipers energy player of the game: Geoff Crisfield
1st Star: Bryce Gervais (2 goals)
2nd Star: Joey Benik (1 goal & 2 assists)
3rd Star: Mario Lucia (1 goal & 1 assist)
For more on tonight's game visit the boxscore,