For anyone who could not attend or watch tonight’s Vipers game here are my thoughts and views from tonight’s game. You may agree or disagree but we all have our own view and opinion on any game we watch. This is my opinion and my thoughts on how I saw tonight’s game. I try to be unbiased and give a fare recap on both sides. Thanks for stopping by & visiting my blog.
I was at tonight's BCHL game as Merritt defeated Vernon 3-2 in overtime in front of 1,574 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Austin Smith
Merritt: Connor LaCouvee
1st Period: Just over a minute into the opening frame Adam Tracey with a nice move in close got around the Vernon defenceman before trying to go fivehole on Austin Smith who shut the door. The Vipers come right back on the next shift after Craig Martin was stopped by Connor LaCouvee who made a nice save in the opening minute and a half. The Vipers would get the games first powerplay just over four minutes into the contest and only needed twenty seconds. Dallas Calvin with a nice pass from behind the net setup Mason Blacklock who ripped a hard shot from the circle beating Cents starting goaltender Connor LaCouvee at 5:05 giving Vernon a early 1-0 lead. Calvin and Craig Martin collected the helpers. Just fifty seconds later the Vipers would head back on the powerplay. Some good pressure early before the Cents would finish with a strong penalty kill killing off the minor. Just after the powerplay Dane Birks with a hard shot from the point, had Gavin Gould alone in front for the screen but Vipers starting goaltender Austin Smith with a nice save keept this a one goal game. Under two minutes later just before the midway mark Brendan Persley with a huge check along the side wall in the Centennials zone opened up some ice for Matty Saharchuk who ripped a hard high shot from the circle that beat LaCouvee but hit the crossbar. The Vipers looked very good in the first half outplayed Merritt and were up 1-0. Just a few minutes into the second half Demico Hannoun with a wrap around was stopped by Connor LaCouvee before being stopped again on his own rebound. LaCouvee with two big back to back saves kept this a one goal game as Vernon was outshooting Merritt 11-3 at this point. The Cents would come right back and get just there third scoring opportunity of the night after James Neil alone in front was stopped by Austin Smith before getting his own rebound being stopped again and then tried again for his third chance before Smith made a huge pad save while down and out as Neil with three chances down low in front couldnt get the Centennials on the board. With under six minutes remaining Craig Martin put Vernon up by two at 14:20 TJ Dumonceaux and Liam Coughlin picked up the assists. Under a minute later the Cents would get their first shot with the man advantage. With some good pressure Merritt was unable to capitalize but the Centennials seemed to build off a strong powerplay as the tables turned in the final four and a half minutes as Merritt who was outplayed all period slowly turned things up and started to roll for the remaining of the period. Just after the powerplay expired Gavin Gould with a quick shot from the slot forced Smith to make a quick right pad save kicking out the puck keeping this a two goal game. The Cents sending two men in deep were forcing the Vipers into turning over the puck and poor breakout passes as the Centennials were now the team outplaying the Vipers. Vernon was up 2-0 after 20 minutes of play. The Vipers with a good start outplayed and outchanced the Centennials in the first fifteen minutes before Merritt stormed back with a solid final four and a half minutes outplaying the Vipers. Shots were even 14-14.
2nd Period: Merritt started the middle frame right where they left off the first period. The Cents come out hard, again sending two guys in deep, forcing the Vipers into turnovers. The Cents come at Vernon hard and often, with some relentless forecheck the Cents would get on the board early. Gavin Gould with a wicked wrist shot top sehlf beat Austin Smith under the crossbar at 4:22 making this a one goal game. Adam Tracey and James Neil picked up the assists. Just over two minutes later Vernon would get its first powerplay of the period and third of the night but it was the Cents penalty kill who come up with the scoring opportunity. Gavin Gould in on a two on one tried feeding Jeff Wight but Michael McNicholas back on the backcheck made a strong defensive play breaking up the pass. The Vipers needed just over six minutes to get their first shot on goal this period. Merritt would kill off the minor. Shortly after the penalty kill the Cents come very close to tying the game after a scramble in front of the Vernon goal, the puck rolled through the crease and looked to roll across the goal line and out the other side. Vernon come right back with their only real good quality chance of the period, Michael McNicholas and Dexter Dancs on a two on one, McNicholas kept and shot couldnt beat Connor LaCouvee who made a good save in close. Vernon who couldnt get much of anything going looked very scrambled, poor passes and were called offside several times through out this period. Merritt on the other hand didnt get alot of opportunities but outplayed, outworked and outhit the Vipers for most of the period. The Centennials would tie the game after a scramble in front of Austin Smith, the Cents with two or three cracks at the puck Cents captain Payton Schaefer finally banged home the rebound tying the game 2-2 at 14:02 James Neil with the lone helper. The Centennials with a hard working period scored twice, outplayed and carried the better of the play most of the period. It was 2-2 after 40 minutes of play. Merritt outshot Vernon 12-8.
3rd Period: In the opening minute Payton Schaefer with a quick shot from the circle forced Austin Smith into making a huge glove save keeping this game tied. Smith was busy early as a minute later Jake Clifford with a low hard shot made Smith made a big pad save as Merritt come out hard to start the final frame. Once again the Centennials with a strong forecheck were always sending a guy or two in deep, forcing Vernon's defence into several turnovers. Merritt with some good pressure early was carrying the better of the play. Five minutes into the period the scoreboard went out as the play went on for a minute or two before coming back on. Just before the halfway mark Logan Mick tried feeding TJ Dumonceaux on a Vipers two on one but Wayland Williams come up with a solid defensive play breaking up the pass. Merritt was the better of the two teams in the first half as the Vipers finally started getting their legs going in the second half and got some offensive chances. Both teams went back and forth in the second half. With eight minutes remaining Merritt come very close to scoring the winner after the puck rolled through the crease before coming out the other end. Kenny Citron was stopped on a hard shot from the point before Dallas Calvin got a quick low backhand off in front just missed the far corner. Not alot of whistles made for a very quick period and game. Vernon with two good chances in the final few minutes couldnt capitalize as both goaltenders played well as it was tied 2-2 after 60 minutes of play. The Centennials were the better of the two teams in the first half before Vernon playing much better in the second half as both teams were fairly even. Merritt outshot Vernon 12-11.
Overtime: The Vipers would get the first chance as Logan Mick and TJ Dumonceaux on a parcial two on one couldnt end the game. The Cents would then fire the puck in on wich looked to be a dump in play, but the Vipers stood around before Scott Patterson raced in for the loose puck, Patterson circled down low before setting up Gavin Gould in front who beat Smith for the OT winner at 1:21 as the Cents bench erupted onto the ice for their third win of the season. Patterson with the lone helper on the game winner. Merritt outshot Vernon 1-0.
Top Players: (Vernon)
Kenny Citron played a strong game on the Vipers blueline. Citron with two hige checks in the opening period was physical, jumped up into the play and played well at both ends of the rink.
TJ Dumonceaux and Logan Mick played real well together. Mick and Dumonceaux with two two on ones played with alot of hustle and hard work.
Craig Martin (1 goal & 1 assist) Really played well tonight. Martin with alot of speed was flying most of the night, showed alot of hustle, was going hard into the corners and creating opportunities.
Austin Smith (36 saves) Kept the Vipers in tonight's game at times. Smith who kept Vernon in alot of games last season basically helped the Vipers gain a single piont tonight with the OT loss. Was really on his game, played well positionally and made some big saves at key times keeping this game close.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
After getting off to a good start to the season, playing very well in both games at the BCHL Showcase the Vipers have been pretty incosistant since returning home from Chilliwack. Vernon who has been incosistant most of this young season cant seem to play a full sixty minutes. After a poor performace in a 5-3 loss in West Kelowna Tuesday night, the Vipers come out with a good start in tonight's game. Vernon outplayed Merritt for most of the period were up 2-0 going into the second period. The Vipers then got outplayed and outworked for most of the middle frame gave up two goals, several turnovers and had troubles making a pass all night just couldnt find their grove. This team looked lost and scrambled for most of the second period and early in the third. It took Vernon almost the first half of the third to finally get going and playing some much better hockey the final eight to nine minutes. The Vipers with several turnovers all night had troubles passing and breaking out of their own end. This was a game the Vipers let slip away in a game they should have won after the first period. With just one win in six games tonight was almost a must win. The Vipers next four games are going to be very tough. The Vees are in town Wednesday before the Vipers play a home and home with Surrey before hitting the road for games in Prince George and Salmon Arm. The Vipers could have just one win in their first ten games. Not the start Viper fans were looking for with the RBC Cup here this May. The Vipers need to turn things around in a hurry or they are going to be in trouble. Vernon is last in the Interior Division.
Top Players: (Merritt)
Shane Poulsen played very well on Merritt's backend.
Dane Birks also played well on the Centennials blueline. Solid defensively.
The line of Payton Schaefer (1 goal), Adam Tracey (1 assist) & James Neil (2 assists) was the Centennials best unit tonight. This line was very dangerous and had alot of Merritt's offensive chances. Schaefer the Centennials captain plays hard, in your face, dosnt back down the from rough stuff and goes hard to the net. Tracey and Neil also played well, both go to the net and look for opportunities.
Gavin Gould (2 goals) Was the Cents best player tonight, played with a ton of jump, energy and really used his wheels. Not the biggest kid but played big all game. Very shifty, goes hard to the net and always working hard.
Jeff Wight also played well up front for Merritt.
Connor LaCouvee (32 saves) Didnt have to make a ton of tough saves but made some key saves through out tonight's game. I thought played and looked his best in the third when the Vipers had some of there better chances in the second half.
Game Thoughts: (Merritt)
After a dissapointing 3-2 loss at home to the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters Merritt rolled into Vernon with a ton of injuries and just two wins on the young season. Give Luke Pierce and his club full credits for the win in a hard fought victory. The Cents who were outplayed and outchanced for most of the first period, rebounded late coming back with some hard work of their own in the final few minutes before coming out with a very strong second period. Tying the game at two the Centennials outplayed and outworked Vernon all second before coming away with the OT winner. For a team with six regulars out of the lineup this team played very well. A very good forecheck, always sending in a guy or two deep, forced Vernon into several turnovers. This is a hard working club, that didnt quit and kept plugging away. A big win for Merritt moves them into 4th place.
Josh Bryan (Injured)
Colton Sparrow (Injured)
Ryan Renz (Injured)
Energy player of the game:
1st Star: Gavin Gould (2 goals)
2nd Star: James Neil (2 assists)
3rd Star: Craig Martin (1 goal)
For more on tonight's game visit the BCHL boxscore,
For more on tonight's game and the Merritt Centennials visit Dustin Scafe's Centennials blog,