Thursday, December 1, 2011

Penticton 3 Vernon 2

I was at tonight's BCHL game as Penticton defeated Vernon 3-2 in front of 1,587 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Starting Goaltenders:

Vernon: Kirby Halcrow
Penticton: Michael Garteig

1st Period: Just twenty seconds off the opening faceoff Brett Corkey lost the puck in behind his own net before newcomer Bryce Gervais jumped on the loose puck and tried stuffing it shortside past Kirby Halcrow who had to keep his pads-legs tight against the post to keep the puck out. Not much action in the opening few minutes as both teams looked to be feeling each other out as the play went back and forth. Vipers newcomer Ben Gamache with a quick shot from the slot was stopped by Michael Garteig who made a nice save on Vernon's first shot of the night just under five minutes into the contest. The Vipers played with lots of jump and were by far the more physical team laying out several good checks through out the first period. Just a few minutes later Mike Zalewski with two quick back to back shots was stopped by Garteig. Mike Zalewski and John Knisley would get mixed up and couldnt get a shot off on a two on one scoring opportunity. Vernon would open the scoring at 8:54 after Brett Corkey's point shot hit Peter McMullen in front beating Micheal Garteig giving the Vipers a 1-0 lead. Corkey and Marc Hetnik picked up the assists. The lead didnt last long as a minute later the Vees point shot beat Kirby Halcrow as the puck laid in the crease, with a scramble of bodies in and around the Vernon goal Marc Hetnik would cover the puck in the crease giving Penticton a penalty shot. Connor Reilly would take the penalty shot for the Vees and beat Halcrow at 9:54 tying the game. Kirby Halcrow had to be sharp making a tough save in close with traffic in front banging away at the puck. Just past the midway mark Geoff Crisfield caught Vees defenceman, Mike Reilly with an elbow in front of both teams benches, Troy Stetcher then laid a solid check on Crisfield before the two dropped their gloves. Just over a minute later Peter McMullen carried the puck through the neutral zone, stepped over the Penticton blueline and then made a nice to Ben Gamache who tipped the puck past Michael Garteig giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 12:47 McMullen would get credit for the goal with Tom Swales and Brett Corkey picking up the assists. But it was clearly Gamache's goal and McMullen the player who made the nice play-pass to setup the goal. A very entertaining period with some good back and forth action as both teams were very evenly matched in the first period. The Vipers with a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play. Penticton outshot Vernon 11-7.

2nd Period: The Vees come out strong to start the middle frame and really took it too the Vipers early and often. Penticton with some good early pressure had Vernon back on their heels for most of the period. Peter McMullen took a highstick in the face from Vees captain, Logan Johnston with no call on the play McMullen dropped the gloves with Johnston before having to go to the Vipers dressing room for some repairs. Mario Lucia setup Connor Reilly with a saucer pass in front on a two on one but Kirby Halcrow come across the crease to make a huge pad-tow save off Reilly keeping the score 2-1. Just a few minutes later the Vees once again with good pressure deep in the Vipers zone forced Kirby Halcrow to be alert after making a tough save down low with traffic in and around the Viper goal. On the next play Travis St. Denis tried setting up Connor Reilly on another Penticton Vees odd man rush but this time Reilly couldnt connect-handle the St. Denis pass as the Vees with a good opportunity to tie the game. The Vipers who didnt look like the same team couldnt get the puck out or through the neutral zone as Penticton carried the play for most of the period. Vernon with just two shots in the first nine minutes. One of those shots was from Brett Corkey who's point shot got through traffic where Brendan Persley was in front tried tipping the puck past Garteig who had to be sharp making a tough save with traffic in front. The Vees with some great opportunities had troubles hitting the net in the 2nd firing wide or high on several shots from in close. Just past the midway mark the Vees would get the games first powerplay, with some good pressure the Vipers penalty kill was also very good keeping the Vees to the outside before Darren Nowick with some good hustle just about had a parcial breakaway before Mike Reilly hustled back with a strong defensive play to steal the puck away from Nowick and take away a Vipers scoring chance. On the same play Nowick would get sent to the penalty box giving the Vees a long two man advantage. With some good pressure deep in the Vernon zone, a strong penalty kill by the Vipers held the Vees to the outside and any shots that were taken missed the net as Vernon would excape and kill off both penalties. On the man advantage Connor Reilly would leave the ice and head to the Vees dressing room in some pain but would return to the ice later. Brendan Persley would block a shot in the dying seconds of the last penalty and also leave the ice slowly but would also stay in the game. Just three minutes later Penticton would get a late powerplay, again with some good pressure the Vipers kept the Vees to the outside for most of the man advantage, until Joey Benik with a quick shot from the circle was robbed by either a diving Kirby Halcrow or Geoff Crisfield who kept the puck out after Benik's shot at the open cage. The Vees would keep the puck moving as Travis St. Denis with some hard work down low setup Connor Reilly who made a quick-hard pass through the front of the goal setting up Mario Lucia who beat Halcrow who couldnt come across the crease in time tying the game 2-2 at 17:11 St. Denis and Reilly with the helpers. The Vipers would finally get the puck out of their own end and get some late pressure in the final minute and a half where they would get just their third shot of the period and first in about eleven minutes. At the buzzer Connor Reilly and Ben Gamache exchanged words. The 2nd period was all Penticton, three powerplays, some good pressure and a strong forecheck the Vees dominated the play for most of the entire period. It was tied 2-2 after 40 minutes of play. The Vees outshot the Vipers 16-3.

3rd Period: The Vees started the 3rd right from where they left off the 2nd period. Penticton would get off to a strong start for the second straight period and put some pressure on the Vipers early. Bryce Gervais with a good chance in close was stopped by Halcrow three and a half minutes into the final frame. Connor Reilly was then stopped in close. The Vipers once again were having troubles getting out of their own end and getting through the neutral zone. Mike Reilly with some nice moves skated through a few Vernon players before getting stopped at the side of the net by Halcrow who was keeping his club in tonights game. The Vipers would finally break through the neutral zone and get a great opportunity after Ben Gamache setup Peter McMullen in front but McMullen's tip went just up and over the Vees net on a close play. Vernon would seem to get their game going atleast for the next few minutes as both teams went back and forth in a tied game. Ryan Reilly with a great chance tried beating Halcrow in front as the Vees come back with some good pressure. Bryce Gervais couldnt connect on a chance in front after a wide open cage and the puck just went by the Vernon goal. Travis St. Denis from the slot was stopped by Halcrow. Both teams played very well defensively but it was the Vees offence who just kept coming in waves. Late in the game Logan Johnston's shot would hit a body in front coming right back out front to a wide open Ryan Reilly who driving hard towards the net sliding the puck into the open cage giving Penticton a 3-2 lead at 15:35 Johnston and Troy Stetcher collected the assists. The Vees then held the Vipers deep in their own zone for most of the final four minutes as Vernon couldnt get out of their own end. The Vipers would call a late timeout but couldnt get the puck through the neutral zone as Kirby Halcrow was unable to get to the bench. With the Vipers running out of time and still trying to get Halcrow to the bench for the extra attacker a pass through the middle landed on the stick of Connor Reilly who had a breakaway in the final minute of play but couldnt beat Halcrow who finally got to the bench in the final minute. The Vipers would finally get the puck deep into the Vees zone and with about twelve seconds remaining the puck come to the side of the net where it bounced over Darren Nowicks stick on wich would have been a sure goal before the Vees would clear the zone and just miss the empty net at the buzzer as Penticton wins it 10th straight game with a 3-2 victory over the Vernon Vipers. The Vees outshot the Vipers 11-7.

Top Players: (Vernon)

The newly formed third line of Jedd Soleway, Ben Gamache (1 goal) and Peter McMullen (1 goal and 1 assist) was Vernon's best line tonight. I really liked the looks of this line tonight. Ben Gamache who made his Vipers debut after coming over in a trade with the AJHL Okotoks Oilers on Sunday likes to go to the net and isnt afraid to play physical. A smooth skater has a nose for the net and it showed tonight. Gamache will make both Peter McMullen and Jedd Soleway better hockey players if he sticks on this line. Peter McMullen played one of his best games as a Viper tonight, showed alot of hustle, was also going to the net and played with a bit of an edge. After taking a highstick to the face from Logan Johnston, McMullen didnt waist little time in dropping the gloves with the Vees captain.

The line of Riley Hunt, Chris Derochie "AP" and Tom Swales "AP" didnt look out of place and played well for a rookie line. Hunt played with lots of jump-energy and was hitting guys all night. I thought Derochie also looked very good up front for the Vipers, battled and played well up front.

Geoff Crisfield saw alot of icetime and played very well on Vernon's blueline. I thought Geoff played very well defensively and has really come on here the last few games.

Kirby Halcrow (35 saves) Kept his team in the game, giving the Vipers a chance to win. Halcrow played one of his better games in the last few weeks making some big saves through out tonights contest. Had to be sharp and come up with some big saves in the 2nd and 3rd period.

Game Thoughts: (Vernon)

The Vipers have now lost seven straight games and fall to 1-4 against Penticton this season. After taking a 6-1 loss to the Vees last week in Vernon the Vipers played a much better game tonight. Vernon who was a few minutes away from taking a 2-1 lead into the 3rd period was without five regulars had troubles all night getting the puck out of their own zone and getting the puck through the neutral zone. I thought the Vipers played very well and held their own in the 1st period but just couldnt seem to find a way to get the offence going for the 2nd and 3rd periods. With just four regular d-men in the lineup I thought the Vipers defence did very well against a very skilled Penticton Vees team. The Vipers didnt get alot of bounces tonight wich dosnt help either. I saw alot of improvements and good things in tonights game compared to both losses to Salmon Arm last weekend. Vernon battled and competed and gave it their all but with five regulars out of the lineup it's going to be hard to beat a very skilled-strong team like the Vees. Give the Vipers credit, for a team with five regulars out of the lineup they kept the Vees to a one goal game. I cant ever recall the last time the Vipers had a seven game losing streak.

Top Players: (Penticton)

Mike Reilly who has played very well against Vernon all season had another solid game tonight. This kid is a very skilled defenceman who likes to carry and rush the puck before dishing it off once in the offensive zone. A very smooth skater looked very good at both ends of the rink tonight.

The line of Connor Reilly (1 goal & 1 assist), Travis St. Denis (1 assist) and Mario Lucia (1 goal) was the Vees top line. Connor Reilly was really skating hard tonight, had several chances to hit the back of the net, scored once on the penalty shot. Mario Lucia also looked very good up front for the Vees, is very dangerous in and around the net.

Logan Johnston (1 assist) In just his second game this season played very well on the Penticton backend.

Troy Stetcher (1 assist) Was another Vees defenceman that played very well on the blueline.

Kyle Beaulieu played very well defensively on the Vees blueline.

Game Thoughts: (Penticton)

The Vees who have now won ten straight have just one loss on home ice this year. With the win the Vees move 18 pts up on the 3rd place Vipers and continue to pull away from the rest of the league. This is by far the best Vees team I have seen over my years of watching junior hockey. Penticton who really stepped up their play for the 2nd and 3rd periods didnt quit, tied the game late in the 2nd and then got the lucky bounce for the winner late in the 3rd. This team has so much skill and offence that its hard to keep them off the scoreboard. Almost every rush or play is a scoring chance, this team has four real strong lines that can hurt you and make you pay if you make one mistake. Unlike last week in Vernon the Vees were forced to work and battle hard for the win tonight, as it didnt come easy. I thought the Vees defence was very solid tonight, did a great job at shutting down the Vipers offence, didnt give up alot of offensive opportunities and carried most of the play offensively. Good teams find ways to win and thats what happened tonight. This team is going to be hard to beat-stop.



Patrick McGillis (Injured)
Max Mowat (Injured)
Luke Juha (Injured)
Ryan Renz (Injured)
Colton Sparrow (Injured)


Nick Amies (Injured)

3 Stars:

1st Star: Ryan Reilly (1 goal)
2nd Star: Kirby Halcrow (35 saves)
3rd Star: Mario Lucia (1 goal)

For more on tonight's game visit the boxscore,

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