I was at tonight's BCHL game as Vernon defeated Westside 2-1 in front of 1,257 fans at the Wesbild Centre.
Vernon: Kirby Halcrow
Westside: Steven Racine
1st Period: Just twenty seconds into the period Taylor Fauchoux with a great opportunity in the slot was stopped by Kirby Halcrow. The Vipers would get an early powerplay, Colton Sparrow would get the lone chance in front but was stopped by Steven Racine. Vernon moved the puck well setting up defenceman, Marc Hetnik who had three big onetimers from the point but couldnt hit the net as the Warriors killed off the powerplay. Just over two minutes later Vernon would get its second man advantage of the period, Mike Zalewski moved in snapping a quick shot from the top of the circle that was either tipped in front by a Vipers player or went off a Warriors d-man that just went wide of the goal. Just the lone opportunity as Westside with two big penalty kills. Shortly after Geoff Crisfield with a bad pinch allowed TJ Dumonceaux and Tyler Krause a two on one, Krause kept and shot beating Halcrow but hit the post on a great scoring chance to open the scoring. A fairly even played opening ten minutes before Westside slowly started to take over the edge in play in the second half of the 1st. The Warriors would get their first man advantage, moving the puck well the Warriors setup Michael King whos hard point shot went through a few players in front as Kirby Halcrow had to be sharp making a key save. This was the lone scoring chance as Vernon would kill off the minor. The play then became real scrambled at times, some poor passing, pucks taking funny bounces, just no real flow to the game before Westside with some good forecheck downlow had some good pressure in the Vipers end for a good two or three minutes but unable to generate any real scoring chances. Colton Sparrow played with alot of energy tonight, and was the Vipers most physical player laying out some solid checks. Westside would get a late powerplay, Michael Kings point shot got through traffic, Halcrow made the first save and then had to get his right pad down and across to rob Dru Morrison on the rebound keeping the game scoreless. The period would come to an end with the Warriors still on the powerplay. It was 0-0 after 20 minutes of play. Vernon outshot Westside 13-6.
2nd Period: The Warriors started the 2nd still with the man advantage but unable to get much offence going with just a handful of seconds remaining in the powerplay. Westside carried their strong play that they finished the 1st period with into the 2nd period and really carried most of the play in the first half of the second period. Westside with good pressure couldnt get their offence going, getting the play in deep the Warriors just couldnt generate any real good scoring chances. The Vipers who didnt get alot of bounces or puck luck in the first two periods couldnt make a tape to tape pass and just couldnt seem to get their legs going early. About seven minutes into the middle frame Geoff Crisfield with a great chance in close had Warriors netminder, Steven Racine going down but the Vernon defenceman fired the puck up and over the net. Garrett Skrbich with some hard work in front of the Vipers goal come up with back to back chances in front but couldnt get the puck past Kirby Halcrow who played very well tonight. Westside carried most of the play in the first half of the period before Vernon slowly started to get their legs going and created some chances in the second half. A good hard shift by Vernon's fourth line generated some energy and offence after some strong work along the wall before Connor Hartley got the puck in front, with a ton of traffic in front Steven Racine made two big saves while down and out and then the Vipers tried banging away at the loose puck before Racine covered up and stopped the play on a good flurry of action in front of the Warriors goal. Tempers heated up a little after the odd scrum after a whistle. Peter McMullen left the ice in some pain but after getting checked out by the trainers McMullen stayed in the hockey game. McMullen then had a great chance in front, but went high and over the goal. Late in the period John Knisley with a burst of speed flew down the right wing, went around the Warriors d-man and the goal coming back out front making a nice pass in the slot where Darren Nowick slid the puck past Racine at 18:52 giving the Vipers a 1-0 lead, Knisley and Mike Zalewski with the assists. The Vipers come back with a good shift after the goal, Marcus Basara would get past the Westside defence going in alone for the breakaway but Steven Racine stayed with Basara making a big save in close. The Vipers come back with a better performance in the second half playing well creating some chances. Vernon with a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes of play. The Warriors outshot the Vipers 9-8.
3rd Period: Westside would get an early man advantage just a minute into the period, on the powerplay Michael Kings blast from the point was tipped down low by Brett McKinnon who just missed the far corner on a great chance. On the next play the Warriors would take a penalty giving both teams a chance to play a little four on four, John Knisley and Adam Tambellini would get a two on one but former Salmon Arm Silverback-Cowichan Valley Capital Josh Monk made a huge sliding defensive play to break up the Vipers odd man rush. With the Vipers on a short powerplay Colton Sparrow with a chance in front would get stopped by Racine as Westside killed off the minor. Michael King would then get inbehind the Vipers defence in all alone for the parcial breakaway King couldnt find the back of the net. Now Im not sure if Halcrow made the huge save or King missed the net, as it was very hard to tell after the puck landed off in the corner. King thought he had scored as he raised his hands in the air on the play. Vernon would come back with a very hard working shift down low, Peter McMullen carried the puck across the Warriors blueline, before dishing off to Alex Hagen who was stopped in close, Hagen who still had control of the puck went for the wrap around before Jedd Soleway banged in the loose puck that was sitting in the crease giving Vernon a 2-0 lead at 5:13, Rylan Ferster was very upset wanting a slashing penalty on the play as the Warriors bench was very upset. Hagen and McMullen collected the assists. On the next shift Vernon would get an early powerplay, Marcus Basara alone at the side of the goal fired high and just over the far crossbar as the Warriors killed off the minor. Kirby Halcrow made a nice save off a point shot from Peter MacIntosh keeping this a two goal game. Some fairly even play going back and forth at both ends of the rink before Vernon slowly started to just dump the puck in deep and keep the lines fresh. Westside would then get Racine to the bench for the extra attacker with 1:30 remaining, Mike Zalewski would take a very undisaplined penalty with just over a minute to go giving the Warriors a late powerplay. Six on four with traffic in front Halcrow made the first save but couldnt hold onto the rebound before veteran Tyler Krause got the puck up and over and down and out Halcrow at 19:07 making this a one goal game. Krause's goal was unassisted. Jason Williamson would call a timeout, the Warriors would win the draw getting Steven Racine back to the bench for the extra attacker, getting the play in deep Westside was unable to keep the puck in the Vipers zone as Vernon would clear the zone two or three times before time would run out on the Westside Warriors as Vernon would improve to 12-5 with a 2-1 victory. Westside outshot Vernon 15-5.
Top Players: (Vernon)
Max Mowat who played very well Saturday played very well this evening. Mowat was very steady on the Vipers backend tonight.
Marc Hetnik I thought played very well tonight, looked good with and without the puck.
Peter McMullen (1 assist) Has really started to come along for the Vipers, played fairly well tonight. The line of McMullen, Alex Hagen (1 assist) and Jedd Soleway (1 goal) had a few good hard working shifts tonight.
John Knisley (1 assist) Was really skating hard tonight, really used his speed to his advantage, creating chances as well as opening up some ice by his quickness.
Colton Sparrow played and showed alot of energy tonight, was Vernon's most physical player, come up with a few good scoring opportunities.
Geoff Crisfield I thought played fairly well defensively tonight.
Kirby Halcrow (29 saves) Played very well between the pipes tonight. Made some good saves but made some very tough saves with traffic in front. Really saw the puck tonight.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
I thought Vernon got better as the game went along, they started out fairly well but had troubles at times in both the 1st and 2nd periods. The Vipers didnt get alot of bounces or have any puck luck especially in the first two periods. The puck was hoping over sticks, players were bumping into one another, sticks were getting in the way, the Vipers just couldnt seem to get much going at times. I thought the Vipers slowly started to get their game going in the second half of the middle frame and played fairly well from here on in to the finish. Tonight was Vernon's fourth game in seven nights, & the Vipers got some solid goaltending from Kirby Halcrow. Vernon now heads on the road for four straight.
Top Players: (Westside)
Michael King was the Warriors best d-man tonight. King played very well with and without the puck. Created and generated some good scoring chances through out tonights contest.
Brett McKinnon looked fairly well up front for the Westside Warriors. Had atleast two good scoring chances tonight.
Dylan Rota "AP" Seemed to fit in nicely, played very well for the Warriors, didnt look out of place.
Reid Simmonds had a few good shifts, played well at times.
Tyler Kraus (1 goal) Also played well at times, scored the lone Warriors goal and come very close to opening the scoring hitting the post.
Josh Monk who was recently aquired from the Cowichan Valley Capitals played very well on the Westside blueline. Made a solid defensive play to break up John Knisley and Adam Tambellini on the odd man rush.
Game Thoughts: (Westside)
The Warriors are now 0-3 against Vernon this season and have now dropped five straight. Westside who was missing some key veteran players out of their lineup (Richard Vanderhoek, Seb Lloyd, Connor Dempsey, Shawn Hochhausen, Travis Blaleil & Max French) played very well considering the players who were missing. I thought the Warriors were lacking that offensive punch they normally show, Westside played very well defensively limiting Vernon's scoring chances. This could have been anyones game, considering it was scoreless with two minutes remaining in the 2nd period. Give Rylan Fersters club credit they battled hard and made it very interesting with Tyler Krause's late goal.
Patrick McGillis (Injured)
Vipers energy player of the game: Riley Hunt
1st Star: John Knisley (1 assist)
2nd Star: Kirby Halcrow (29 saves)
3rd Star: Michael King
For more on tonight's game check out the boxscore,