I was at tonight's BCHL game as Vernon defeated Penticton 7-1 in front of 1,350 fans at the Wesbild Centre.
Vernon: Kirby Halcrow
Penticton: Michael Garteig
1st Period: Both teams got off to a good start with some pretty even play before Mike Zalewski with the games first good scoring opportunity of the night came just three and a half minutes into the opening period. Zalewski stepped over the left circle and ripped a quick shot from the dot that beat Michael Garteig but rang off the crossbar. The Vipers who were really skating hard, come close again just three minutes later after Marcus Basara's shot from the slot got through Garteig but Alex Hagen who was driving hard towards the goal couldnt tap the loose puck into the open cage as a crowd of players gathered in and around the Vees goal and the puck was swept clear of the crease and out. Just before the midway mark, Marc Hetnik with a quick shot from the circle was stopped by Michael Garteig who made a nice glove save off the Vipers rookie d-man. Off the next draw John Knisley won the faceoff feeding Darren Nowick down low who then made a nice crease pass to Mike Zalewski who put Vernon on the board at 10:47, Nowick and Knisley collected the helpers. Just under two minutes later Riley Hunt with a hard shift, took a pretty big check along the side wall, staying with the play and the puck, Hunt showed good hustle to setup Marcus Basara in front whos shot was tipped along the way by Darren Nowick who gave the Vipers a 2-0 lead at 12:03. Basara and Hunt (first career BCHL point) picked up the assists. Vernon seemed to get better as the period carried on as the Vipers slowly started to carry the better of the play for the remainder of the 1st period. The Vees who were 2-0 against Vernon coming into tonight's game couldnt seem to generate much offence getting very little scoring opportunities. Jedd Soleway with a late blast from the circle handcuffed Garteig who made the save but had troubles controlling the rebound. With just over three minutes remaining Colton Sparrow and Adam Tambellini on a odd man rush, Sparrow setup Tambellini whos shot just missed the far right corner as the Vipers come close. Penticton who was getting outplayed in the second half would get their first scoring chance of the period, Garrett Hendrickson's backhand with just over thirty seconds remaining was stopped by Kirby Halcrow who didnt see alot of rubber in the 1st period. The Vipers looked very good in the opening period and were the better of the two teams up 2-0 after 20 minutes of play. Vernon outshot Penticton 12-8.
2nd Period: The Vipers come out hard to start the middle frame, Vernon product Colton Sparrow driving hard towards the net in the opening minute was stopped by Michael Garteig who had to squeese his fivehole shut making a tough save down low. On the play the Vipers would get their first powerplay of the night and capitalize early. Marcus Basara setup Colton Sparrow in front who beat Garteig at 1:33 giving Vernon a 3-0 lead. Basara and Adam Tambellini collected the helpers. The Vipers didnt quit their, Adam Tambellini would get a chance in close but was stopped by Garteig. Penticton would finally get on the board after a poor giveaway inbehind the Vipers goal, Geoff Crisfield coughed the puck up to a wide open Connor Reilly who beat a stunned Kirby Halcrow at 4:26 cutting the Vipers lead down to two goals. Halcrow had no chance on the Reilly goal didnt even see the puck or shot coming on a bad turnover deep inside the Vipers zone. Reilly's goal was unassisted. This goal gave the Vees live as right off the next shift Penticton would get the play in deep, with some good pressure Mario Lucia batted down a high puck over and past Halcrow but the goal was waived off after Lucia was called for the highstick. The Vees continued the pressure come back with atleast three or four solid shifts hemming the Vipers deep in their own zone, Vernon with several turnovers in their own end couldnt clear the zone with the Vees buzzing. Penticton who was shooting from just about anywhere was firing shots as soon as they come across the blueline. Ryan Reilly with a quick shot from the top of the right circle was stopped by Halcrow. Vernon who went from playing a great opening period all of a sudden were back on their heels. For the next several minutes the play became very sloppy with several poor passes-turnovers at both ends of the rink. Vees captain, Joey Benik and Cody Depourcq caught the Vipers on a bad linechange went in for the two on one, Benik kept and fired but couldnt beat Halcrow, on the same shift Benik with some good hustle tried beating Kirby Halcrow on the wrap around but the Vipers veteran goaltender was sharp keeping the puck out. Vernon would finally take control of the play and get one of just a few scoring opportunities in the 2nd, Mike Zalewski with a nice pass from the corner found Darren Nowick in front who couldnt beat Garteig. The Vipers who quit skating, saw the Vees get their legs going and really turned up the heat in the second half. Again the Vees firing everything on goal didnt really generate alot of chances down low, were taking most of their shots from the high slot or top of the point area getting alot of rubber on Halcrow. Ryan Reilly with his second scoring opportunity of the night couldnt get the puck past Kirby Halcrow. The Vipers come close to re-taking their three goal lead again snapped a quick shot from the slot that hit somebody in front just fluttering over the top of the crossbar and over the Vees net. Penticton would take over the edge in play and really carry the better of the play for the final six or seven minutes, with some good pressure the Vees were unable to get any closer. Vernon would get a late powerplay wich would carry on into the 3rd period. A much better effort from the Vees in the 2nd period after Penticton was the better of the two teams. Vernon with a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes of play. The Vees outshot the Vipers 16-9.
3rd Period: Vernon would start the 3rd with the man advantage that was carried over from the 2nd period. The Vipers struggled early before Ryan Renz's long shot from the point hit Ryan Reilly in front as the puck landed on the stick of Adam Tambellini who beat Michael Garteig with a nice move in close giving the Vipers a 4-1 lead at 1:25. Renz and Geoff Crisfield picked up the assists. On the next shift Penticton would get their first powerplay of the game, moving the puck well Darren Nowick come up with a huge shot block. A very strong penalty kill as the Vees with a few good chances couldnt hit the net as the Vipers killed off the minor. Shortly after Connor Reilly with a breakaway couldnt get off a shot after Darren Nowick with some great hustle, got back into the play before sliding across making a huge defensive play to breakup Reilly's breakaway. Vernon with two quick back to back goals would put this game out of reach. Mike Zalewski scored at 7:26 giving Vernon a 5-1 lead, John Knisley and Darren Nowick with the helpers before Marcus Basara just fourty seconds later gave Vernon a 6-1 lead with Colton Sparrow and Ryan Renz picking up the assists. From here on in the Vipers kept it pretty simple just dumping the puck in deep and keeping all four lines rolling. Penticton who couldnt get much going at this point was playing their third and fourth lines often for alot of the second half of the third. Penticton would get a late powerplay but unable to generate any offence, again missing the net on atleast two chances. The Vees who seemed to miss the net often tonight couldnt capitalize with the man advantage. Just after the penalty kill in the final seconds (AP) John Saunders wich looked like just a regular shot towards the goal somehow beat Michael Garteig for his first career BCHL goal on a goal I think Garteig would like to have back. Saunders goal come at 19:39 giving the Vipers a 7-1 lead. Saunders goal was unassisted. In the end Vernon would knock off Penticton 7-1 improving to 10-4 and climbing to within three points of the first place Vees. Vernon outshot Penticton 17-8.
Top Players: (Vernon)
(AP) John Saunders (1 goal) Didnt look out place, I thought the Vipers d-man held his own and played a pretty steady game for the Vipers tonight. With Brett Corkey and Luke Juha out of the Vipers lineup, it's nice to see a young rookie like Saunders step in and play so well.
Adam Tambellini (1 goal & 1 assist) Played very well with Marcus Basara this evening. The two Vipers seemed to click and looked very strong playing with one another. Tambellini with a few good scoring chances played well up front for the Vipers.
The line of Mike Zalewski (2 goals), John Knisley (2 assists) & Darren Nowick (1 goal & 2 assists) played very well together. This line was really skating hard, playing with alot of jump and good energy seemed to generate alot of Vernon's offence tonight. Had some good scoring opportunities capitalized on some of their chances.
Marcus Basara (1 goal & 2 assists) Also had a strong game up front for Vernon. Basara who has been one of the more consistant Vipers this season was another player who was skating hard, creating chances and very good with the puck down low.
Colton Sparrow (1 goal & 1 assist) Played with alot of jump and energy, had a few good checks through out tonights contest as well as come up with a few good scoring chances.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
Coming into tonight's game the Vipers were 0-2 vs Penticton this season, being outscored 12-4 in both losses. With four regulars out of the lineup (Brett Corkey, Aaron Hadley, Luke Juha and Patrick McGillis) It was nice to see the Vipers come away with a hard fought 7-1 victory over the first place Penticton Vees. Other then a not so good 2nd period I thought Vernon played very well against the top team in the BCHL for periods one and three. The Vipers really had their legs going and were skating hard in the opening period, jumping out to a 2-0 lead was huge. Give the Vipers defence credit for shutting down Penticton's top players and not allowing the Vees to get in close and generate alot of chances from down low, most of the Vees shots were from way outside or back at the blueline where Kirby Halcrow made the routine saves look easy. Vernon now moves to within three points of the Vees for top spot in the Interior Conference and stays two points ahead of the 3rd place Merritt Centennials after the Cents overtime win over Salmon Arm tonight.
Top Players: (Penticton)
Ryan Reilly was the Vees most dangerous player tonight. Reilly who looked very good tonight come up with the most scoring opportunities this evening. Had atleast two or three scoring chances but couldnt find the back of the net.
Connor Reilly (1 goal) Looked good in the opening period as well as getting a few chances through out tonights game. A quick hard skater who sees the ice very well.
Game Thoughts: (Penticton)
This wasnt the same Penticton Vees team I saw play and defeat Vernon in the two previous meetings. With six regulars out of the lineup (Nick Amies, Mark McLellan, Logan Johnston, Curtis Loik, Travis St. Denis and Troy Stetcher) the Vees didnt seem to have that killer instinct tonight. Penticton who has a ton of skill and guys that can put the puck in the net didnt look or play the same as in the two previous meetings with Vernon. The Vees who started out well just couldnt generate much offence in the opening period before falling behind 2-0. A much better 2nd period the Vees only managed one goal and were down by two heading into the 3rd. Giving up an early powerplay goal put Penticton down by three early before the Vipers speed and skill took over in the 3rd and put the game out of reach. The Vees just couldnt seem to generate much offence, were shooting from way outside had troubles getting in close and playing in the greay area. Kirby Halcrow saw most shots and wasnt forced to make any real tough saves. You can bet Fred Harbinson wont be pleased with tonights effort-game. Specialty teams was a difference as the Vipers went two for two, while the Vees went 0-2. Penticton gave up early goals to start the 2nd and 3rd periods wich didnt help them.
Patrick McGillis (Injured)
Nick Amies (Injured)
Logan Johnston (Suspended)
Travis St. Denis
Vipers energy player of the game: Adam Tambellini (1 goal & 1 assist)
1st Star: Mike Zalewski (2 goals)
2nd Star: Darren Nowick (1 goal & 2 assists)
3rd Star: Marcus Basara (1 goal & 2 assists)
For more on tonight's game check out the boxscore,