I was at tonight's BCHL exhibition game as Vernon defeated West Kelowna 5-1 at Royal Le Page Place.
Vernon: Austin Smith
West Kelowna: Cody Porter
1st Period: The Vipers come out wearing their brand new away jerseys (Florida Panthers 3rd set jerseys) but with the Vipers old-original logo. Just twenty seconds into the opening period the Warriors got the play deep in the Vipers zone as veteran forward Brett McKinnon setup Warriors captain Max French in front who was stopped by Austin Smith. Both teams who were finishing the home and home series looked fairly even at the start but it was West Kelowna who had the better of the chances early. Brett McKinnon with a great chance in front four minutes into the period was stopped by Austin Smith. Vernon come right back the other way Kurt Hildebrand with a shot from the side wall just about snuck one through the pads of Cody Porter who had to close the fivehole shut before the Vipers tried poking away at the loose puck. West Kelowna come back with some good pressure but no real scoring chances before the Vipers slowly started to take over the edge in play and outplayed the Warriors for most of the remainder of the 1st period. Adam Tambellini setup Aaron Hadley in the slot who just missed the short side missing the net. On the same play Hadley then setup Tambellini who beat Porter at 7:45 giving the Vipers a 1-0 lead. Hadley with the only helper on the goal. The Vipers kept coming getting a few good chances. Cody Porter made a glove nice save off a Vipers three on two rush. Aaron Hadley with a quick high snap shot from in close rang his shot off the mask of Porter. Colton Sparrow alone in front missed the net from the slot on a great chance. Around the midway mark Braxton Bilous's point shot went through a maze of players hitting two sticks in front as the puck just graized over the crossbar. This was the Warriors first shot towards Austin Smith in several minutes as the Vipers were outshooting the Warriors at this point 12-4. Just shortly after West Kelowna would get the games first powerplay Brett McKinnon somehow missed a great opportunity after a shot from in close somehow stayed out and was lying in the crease with a scramble of players everywhere before Smith was able to find and cover the puck. On the next shift the Warriors would capitalize after former Vernon Viper Marcus Basara behind the goal setup Max French in front who beat Smith with a low shot to the ice tying the game 1-1 at 14:17 as Basara would collect the only assist. The Vipers would then get their first powerplay of the night but unable to capitalize. Vernon looked very good this period moving the puck well and getting lots og quality shots on net. Joe Serpico with back to back chances was stuffed by Cody Porter. Logan Mick and Kurt Hildebrand with some good hustle and work ended up setting up Joe Serpico who beat Porter giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 18:28 both Mick and Hildebrand with the assists. Just after the goal Mike Roberts with a good chance just about put the Vipers up 3-1. Vernon would get a late powerplay that would carry into the 2nd period. The Vipers were up 2-1 after 20 minutes of play. The game started out fairly even with the Warriors getting the games first few real good chances but it was the Vipers who slowly got their game going and outplayed West Kelowna for most of the period. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 20-12.
2nd Period: Vernon started the 2nd with the powerplay that was carried over from the opening period but into the opening minute of play the Warriors would go down two men giving the Vipers a two man advantage. The Vipers would get the play in deep and capitalize early after Adam Tambellini with his second of the night put Vernon up by two and still on the man advantage. Brett Corkey and Colton Sparrow with the assists. West Kelowna would dodge a bullett and kill off the second minor as Vernon was only able to get the one with the two man advantage. Shortly after Max French with a burst of speed cut hard towards the goal got around his d-man but was stopped by Smith who shut the door. The Vipers then run into penalty trouble playing most of the middle frame shorthanded. Austin Smith who played very well last night gave the Vipers a chance to win tonight and kept his hockey club in the game in the second period making some big stops. Jagger Bowles with a nice move around one Vernon defenceman before going around another Vipers d-man got inbehind the defence getting off a quick shot but couldnt beat Smith who made a nice save. The Vipers would get their fourth powerplay of the night but it didnt last very long as Vernon would take a penalty as both teams played a little four on before West Kelowna had a short man advantage in the end but couldnt capitalize. West Kelowna would get a full two minute man advantage and pepper Austin Smith but the Warriors couldnt solve the former Swift Current Bronco who made atleast five or six big saves as the Vipers goaltender was solid tonight. A strong performance by Smith as the Vipers were able to kill off the two man advantage. At the midway mark West Kelowna would switch goaltenders as former Victoria Grizzy Garrett Rockafellow would replace Cody Porter. Porter made 31 saves giving up three goals. Not much flow to this period as the Warriors played most of the period with the powerplay. Other then Austin Smith the Viper defence was very strong defensively tonight. Geoff Crisfield and Bryce Eviston both made two huge defensive plays to break up a Warriors scoring play. Josh Monk on the man advantage walked into the slot before ripping a hard shot that hit Smith bouncing up in the air before the veteran goaltender leaned back on one knee got his glove up in the air to make a very difficult looking glove save to keep the puck out. Marcus Basara alone at the circle had a great chance but fired wide shortside. West Kelowna did miss the net on atleast four or five shots when a player was wide open. The Vipers would ride the play of Austin Smith and excape a penalty filled period but took a 3-1 lead heading into the 3rd. This period was all Warriors as West Kelowna had several powerplays but couldnt solve the Vipers goaltender. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 18-13.
3rd Period: West Kelowna would get back to back powerplays early to start the 3rd and get another two man advantage but this time it was the strong play from the Vipers defence that shutdown the Warriors powerplay unit not giving up any real scoring chances as the Vipers defence was very solid killing off all three penalties. Just shortly after the Vipers slowly started to get their game back and carried the play for several minutes with some good pressure deep in the Warriors zone. Moving the puck around the Vipers ate up alot of time off the clock getting some pretty good chances at the same time as Garrett Rockafellow made a few nice saves. Adam Tambellini setup Aaron Hadley in front who was stopped by Rockafellow. Landon Robin on a three on one decided to keep and shoot but Rockafellow stayed with his man making a nice save as the Vipers were outplaying West Kelowna for most of the 3rd. Vernon would get a lucky break after Rockafellow got caught out behind his goal as Riley Hunt fired and hit the empty cage giving the Vipers a 4-1 lead at 14:56 Hunts goal was unassisted. On the next shift some hard work and good pressure down low by Vernon would put them up by four goals after Aaron Hadley setup Adam Tambellini from a sharp angle in the corner who beat Rockafellow upstairs giving Vernon a 5-1 lead at 15:31 Hadley with the only helper on the play. Two quick goals seem to take the life out of the Warriors. With 3:26 remaining Kurt Hildebrand hit Adam Plant from behind along the sidewall before all three Warriors come rushing in as pushing and shoving began while Logan Mick dropped the gloves and started swinging punches at veteran Reid Simmonds. With a linesman between the two both players continued to swing punches and exchange words as tempers started to heat up. Hildebrand would get five minutes for checking from behind and a game misconduct as the Warriors would get a late five minute powerplay. But once again the strong defensive play coming from the Vipers defence cooled off any pressure and offence from the Warriors as the Vipers would excape and wind down the clock before picking up their first victory of the pre-season coming away with a 5-1 win. After some strong penalty killing early to start the period the Vipers got going and really looked good as they were the better of the two teams for most of the 3rd before having to end the period once again shorthanded. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 14-9.
Top Players: (Vernon)
The line of Aaron Hadley 92 assists), Craig Martin and Adam Tambellini (3 goals) was the Vipers best line tonight. I didnt really notice Craig Martin but Adam Tambellini and Aaron Hadley looked very good setting one another up all night with some crafty plays. Both Hadley and Tambellini looked very strong up front for the Vipers.
Kurt Hildebrand (1 assist) I thought played fairly well tonight in his first pre-season game with Vernon.
John Saunders played very well tonight on the Vipers blueline.
Brett Corkey 91 assist) for the second straight night looked and played very well at both ends of the rink. Corkey looked so calm and confident on the backend tonight.
Bryce Eviston also played very well on the Vipers blueline. Made a real nice defensive play in the 2nd period to break up a Warriors scoring play.
Austin Smith (38 saves) Has now given up just two goals in two games with the Vipers. Smith who played and looked very good last night come up big tonight, especially in the 2nd period made some big saves with the Vipers shorthanded for most of the period. I was a little worried about our goaltending heading into the Vipers Training camp but Smith has proven so far hes ready to take over the #1 job. This kid looks very calm-relaxed and plays with alot of confidence. I really like the looks of this kid and think Joe Young and Danny Todosychuk may have to battle it out for the backup position.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
The Vipers come away tonight with their first win of the pre-season improving to 1-1-1 with two exhibition games left this weekend vs Salmon Arm. Other then the 2nd period I thought overall the Vipers were the better of the two teams. Ive said it a few times tonight, the Vipers defence was very solid tonight, especially on the penalty kill. I really like the looks of our defence so far. I also thought Austin Smith proved hes the best goaltender in camp as the Vipers have some very touch choices to make come next week. When not in the penalty box I thought the Vipers looked very good up front, they showed some speed tonight and moved the puck well, had some nice setup plays and for the most part was bang on with the passing. The Vipers had lots of pressure deep in the Warriors zone and looked good with the puck. I dont think the coaching staff will be happy with the amount of penalties taken tonight but give credit to the penalty kill and goaltender for bailing them out. So far I really like the looks and make of this years Viper team, they seem to be gelling and coming along nicely. I see alot of team chemistry on the ice, wich I didnt see alot of last season. I really like the Vipers new away jerseys, very sharp!
Top Players: (West Kelowna)
The Warriors best line tonight was a veteran line with the likes of Brett McKinnon, Marcus Basara (1 assist) & Max French (1 goal). I thought this line generated the most offence and come up with most of the Warriors scoring opportunities. Brett McKinnon was very dangerous tonight, getting several scoring chances. Max French come up with a few real good chances and played well up front.
Colton Thibault impressed me tonight, I thought he was involved in the play for most of the game and played with alot of jump.
Josh Monk played well on the West Kelowna backend, jumped up into the play and was good at both ends of the rink.
Cody Porter who made his BCHL pre-season debut last night started tonight's game and played very well for the second straight night. Come up with a few big saves. This kid is going to be very good.
Game Thoughts: (West Kelowna)
The Warriors made their home pre-season debut tonight with Fred Harbinson in attendence checking out his opposition for this coming season. Both teams looked fairly even to start tonight's game with the Warriors getting the better of the scoring chances early but it was the Vipers who outplayed West Kelowna for most of the 1st & 3rd periods. The Warriors did get their chances and outplayed the Vipers in the 2nd period as Vernon was shorthanded most of the middle frame. West Kelowna with some great chances couldnt solve Austin Smith who stole the show for the Vipers. The Warriors just couldnt capitalize or burry their chances. Just like Vernon I dont think Rylan Ferster will be happy with all the penalties his club took tonight. Two quick late goals by the Vipers kinda sealed the game away other wise we may have had a better finish.
They didnt announce either teams scratches.
Here is a look at both teams rosters-lineups
Here is a look at what the Vipers brand new away jerseys look like. They are the exact same design as the Florida Panthers (last year) 3rd set jerseys but with the old-original Vipers logo on the front and the words Vernon Vipers around it.
I was told at tonight's game the Vipers are going with-keeping the same home jerseys from last season but are going to have brand new 3rd set jerseys. I was told they look like the Florida Panthers home (red) jerseys.