I have had season tickets for 29 years and been following junior hockey in Vernon for over thirty five years. I have missed four Vipers home games since 2009 and five Vipers home games since the 1999-2000 season. For anyone who couldn't attend or watch tonight's Vipers game, here are my thought's and view's from tonight's game. You may agree or disagree but we all have our own opinion on the game. I try to be unbiased and give a fare game recap from both sides. Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog.
I was at tonight's Game 1 of the opening round of the playoffs Vipers-Silverbacks game as Salmon Arm defeated Vernon 5-3 in front of 1,641 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Aidan Porter
Salmon Arm: Ethan Langeneger
1st Period: The Vipers got some good pressure in on the Silverbacks off the opening faceoff, had the play in the offensive zone before Jonathan Krahn went in on the two on one, decided to keep and shoot beating Aidan Porter high giving Salmon Arm a 1-0 lead at 1:59 on the Silverbacks first shot of the evening. Hudson Schandor drew the lone assist. This is a goal I think Aidan Porter and the Vipers would like to have back. Porter was too deep in the crease, gave Krahn lots to shoot at. About five minutes later with the Vipers going on a delayed powerplay, Jack Judson took a penalty, taking away the man advantage. On the following play/shift Teddy Wooding and Logan Cash on bacj to back chances in close, couldn't beat Ethan Langeneger down low. A minute later Vipers captain Jagger Williamson with some nice moves made a pass out front but the Snakes couldn't connect on the pass, on a missed opportunity. The Apes quickly turned the puck/play up ice in a hurry getting a chance on a goal mouth scramble at the other end of the rink. Just before the halfway mark the Silverbacks would get the games first powerplay but shorthanded former Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Josh Latta went in for the breakaway beat Ethan Langeneger but rang his shot off the crossbar. Still on the man advantage former Powell River Kings defenceman Andy Stevens was allowed to walk in untouched beating Aidan Porter high, giving Salmon Arm a 2-0 lead at 11:10 Jarrod Semchuk with the helper. I think the Snakes and Aidan Porter would like to have this goal back, as Porter gets caught too deep in the blue paint, giving the Backs lots of room to shoot at. On the play/goal Jesse Lansdell took a slashing minor, sending SA back to the powerplay. The Silverbacks with two shots but couldn't muster much with the PP as Vernon killed off the penalty. With three minutes remaining Trevor Adams with a quick spin around and shoot shot from the high circle forced Aidan Porter into making a quick reaction save, with the left pad on a shot through bodies I don't think the Vipers goaltender saw. The Vipers come right back the other way and on a goal mouth scramble couldn't get their first of the night past Ethan Langeneger down low. With about a minute left in the opening frame, Michael Young's shot from the point beat Ethan Langeneger but not the post. It was 2-0 Salmon Arm after 20 minutes of play. Not only did the Snakes give up the games first goal but the Vipers gave up the games first goal just two minutes into Game 1 of the playoffs. I thought Vernon had a bit of the edge in play in the first half but were down 2-0. The Vipers needed a save on both of Salmon Arm's goals. Porter has to stop the first two goals. Vernon could have really used a break on either Josh Latta hitting the crossbar or Michael Young's shot that went off the post, to at least try and get within a goal. It seemed like the S'Backs gained momentum and took over the remainder of the period in the second half after scoring their second goal. Salmon Arm's second goal really deflated the Vipers as Vernon looked very disorganized. The Snakes were fumbling pucks, passes, coughing up the puck, causing several turnovers inside their own blueline, didn't look very good in the second half of this period. The Apes carried the better of the play in the second half, had more puck possession and were playing physical/finishing their checks. Former Vipers defenceman Darren Rizzolo with the biggest hit of the period on Teddy Wooding. Shots were 12-12.
2nd Period: With a faceoff deep in the Vipers zone, Trevor Adams won the draw before Jarrod Semchuk walked in untouched beat Vipers starting goaltender Aidan Porter down low, giving Salmon Arm a 3-0 lead at 1:14 Adams with the lone helper. Not one Viper moved off the faceoff allowing Semchuk to walk in and score. Shortly after the Snakes would get their first look with the man advantage. Silverbacks starting netminder Ethan Langeneger made two big pad saves in close. Still on the PP Jagger Williamson's shot beat Ethan Langeneger before Jesse Lansdell shoved home the loose puck lying in the crease, cutting Salmon Arm's lead to 3-1 at 2:34 Williamson and Lane Zablocki collected the assists. The S'Backs with a strong push back shift after Vernon's goal. A quick transition off the following puck drop before John Little buried home the rebound in tight, giving Salmon Arm a commanding 4-1 lead at 3:04 Darren Rizzolo & Akito Hirose picked up the assists. The Snakes looked to get back in the game getting within two goals give up a quick goal thirty seconds later. This was the end of the night for Aidan Porter who was yanked after giving up four goals on seventeen Salmon Arm shots. Former Prince George Spruce Kings goaltender Bradley Cooper replaced Porter. On the following shift/play the Apes would get their third powerplay of the contest and capitalize early. Trevor Adams off a rebound in front, gave Salmon Arm a 5-1 lead at 4:07 basically putting the game away at this point. Akito Hirose & Justin Wilson collected the assists. Mark Ferner and the Vipers called a timeout. Fourty two seconds later the Vipers would get their second man advantage of the middle frame but couldn't muster much offence as Salmon Arm kills off the minor. Around two minutes later Josh Latta beat Ethan Langeneger but not the post as Vernon not catching a break. Just past the midway mark the Snakes would jump back on the PP but again couldn't take advantage with the man advantage. Seconds after the penalty expired, Jagger Williamson with a seeing eye wrist shot, cut Salmon Arm's lead to 5-2 at 16:44 Jesse Lansdell drew the helper. It was 5-2 Salmon Arm after 40 minutes of play. The Silverbacks with a quick goal just over a minute into the middle frame, score three quick goals in the opening four minutes, chasing Aidan Porter from the net and putting the game away early into the 2nd period. This was a huge blow to the Vipers who now looked stunned and not in this hockey game. The play was fairly scrambled at times after the three quick goals as both teams ramped up the physical play before Vernon stepped up their play in the second half. I thought the Snakes even though down three/four goals in this period carried the better of the play in the final seven-eight minutes. Vernon didn't get a whole lot of quality chances but had the better of the play, more puck possession and a lot of zone time. Up by three goals I also think the Silverbacks took their foot off the gas. Vernon outshot Salmon Arm 13-8.
3rd Period: Minutes into the final frame Josh Latta with a big check along the side wall, levelled Nick Unruh who went down hard and stayed down before a pile of players jumped in on Unruh's defence. Some pushing and shoving before the officials broke the minor scrum up. The trainer rushed onto the ice to check on Unruh who seemed to be ok and stayed in the game. As the period continued Unruh took a good run at Latta in the neutral zone. Both players took a jab at each other before heading to their benches. With the S'Backs up by three goals, Salmon Arm looked to take their foot off the gas as the Snakes carried the better of the play, but not a lot of opportunities. Jagger Williamson was a target in Game 1, especially in the final frame was tackled to the ice, and given several shots as the play continued. Williamson and former team mate and current Salmon Arm Silverbacks captain Sol Seibel got involved in the neutral zone, as Seibel was trying to sucker Williamson into a penalty as the two were josting back and fourth. Just past the halfway mark Carver Watson who struggled most of the night, drove hard to the goal, setup Jagger Williamson in front cutting Salmon Arm's lead to 5-3 at 13:57 Watson and Jesse Lansdell with the helpers. It was a little too late now but the goal got some life back inside Kal Tire Place, and seemed to get some life into the Vipers who continued to press and press hard with the clock against them. Vernon with a ton of zone time/pressure were boxed to the outside, had troubles getting pucks to the net. The Snakes had a few looks/chances in close with time winding down. The Vipers would get Bradley Cooper to the bench for the extra attacker with about two minutes left. Michael Young's shot from the blueline forced Ethan Langeneger to flash the leather, making a nice glove save. Salmon Arm's defence was solid down the stretch as Salmon Arm takes Game 1 5-3 and a 1-0 series lead. Game two will be played tomorrow in Vernon. With the Apes up by three goals SA took their foot off the gas but the Snakes had troubles creating/generating chances in the first half. The Vipers carried a lot of the play in the period, had a lot of zone time/pressure only managed one goal. Vernon had some looks/opportunities but had troubles up against a strong Silverback defence. Vernon outshot Salmon Arm 12-3.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Jagger Williamson (2 goals) Didn't stand out at the start of the game but I thought got better as the game continued. The Vipers captain wasn't afraid to sacrifice his body, putting his body on the line, emptied the tank in the 3rd period. The courage and strength this young man has, plays with his heart. Williamson took a pounding in the 3rd but kept on battling.
Jesse Lansdell (1 goal-2 assists) Was another Viper forward that played hard, battled and competed. Was going hard to the goal, played physical, finished his checks, was getting under the skin of several Silverbacks, played with an edge.
Brendan Kim I thought played very well on the backend. The rookie d-man carried the puck up ice, was involved in the play at both ends of the rink, played well defensively.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
I didn't think Vernon played overly poor the first half of the opening period but found themselves down 2-0 halfway through Game 1. The Snakes/Aidan Porter would like to have back the first two Salmon Arm goals. Porter was too deep in the blue paint, needs to stop both shots. The Vipers didn't get a big save when needed as goaltending let them down in the first game of the playoffs. You never want to give up the games first goal two minutes in, especially in the playoffs. The Vipers went 1-5 vs Salmon Arm during the regular season, need a big game tonight, instead fall down 2-0 halfway through the first period. If you a player and you don't have the confidence of beating Salmon Arm in the playoffs, whats your confidence now falling behind two goals in the opening eleven minutes? Vernon lost their confidence early and couldn't recover. It wasn't just the games first two goals. Giving up three quick goals in the first four minutes of the middle frame was the deal breaker that put this game away. Tonight reminded me a lot like when Penticton was in town a few weeks back and the Vees scored two quick back to back goals and then another quick goal shortly after to put the game away and win 8-2. The Apes have had the Snakes number all season, the Vipers cant fall behind early, need to open the scoring, grab a two goal lead and gain some confidence/momentum, try and turn the tables. The Vipers made way too many mistakes in the second half of the 1st period. Turned over the puck, coughed up the puck, poor passes, defensive mistakes in their own end. Vernon also wasn't driving to the net, Ethan Langeneger made several saves with a big rebound out front, but no Vipers in sight. The Snakes hit two posts and a crossbar didn't catch a break tonight. The Vipers looked good at times, they looked ok at times, they didn't look good at all at times, overall need to be much better in Game 2. The Vipers need a huge bounce back game tomorrow night if they want to get back in the series. Aidan Porter has to be better. Will the Vipers go back with Porter or will Bradley Cooper get the start in goal? Former Vernon Vipers forwards David Robinson (2009-2011) and Trevor Keenan (2002-2003) were selling 50/50 at tonight's game. A very disappointing crowd for opening night of the playoffs.
Top Player's: (Salmon Arm)
Jonathan Krahn (1 goal) Not the biggest kid but is quick, played well for the Apes.
Matthew Verboon Normally has a strong game points wise vs Vernon instead tonight he was under the skin of several Vipers, played physical and with an edge.
Jarrod Semchuk (1 goal & 1 assist) Played very well in the victory. Was going to the net, involved in the play, worked hard.
Trevor Adams (1 goal & 1 assist) I really like this kid. A smart hockey player that always goes to the goal, has some skill but also plays hard, physical, battles and doesn't quit skating.
Andy Stevens (1 goal) Played well on the Silverbacks blueline.
Ethan Langeneger (34 saves) Improves to 4-0 vs the Vipers this season. Wasn't tested a lot but made the saves when called apon. A bigger goaltender, covers a lot of the net. Got some help from his defence who blocked a lot of shots tonight.
Game Thought's: (Salmon Arm)
You knew the Salmon Arm Silverbacks had to be pretty confident coming into the series and tonight's Game 1 but I don't thin many fans saw this coming. The Silverbacks jumped out to a 2-0 lead and never really looked back. The Backs put the game away early in the middle frame scoring three goals in the first four minutes. Salmon Arm capitalized on their opportunities, chased Aidan Porter from the crease and then took their foot off the gas and played very well defensively down the stretch. SA didn't get a ton of offensive chances, more scored on their opportunities. The Apes go 2-3 with the man advantage while Vernon goes 1-3. I thought the S'Backs were the more physical team, finished their checks, got under the skin of the Vipers at times, blocked a ton of shots tonight, kept Vernon's offensive players to the outside, limiting their time and space, did a great job in front of Ethan Langeneger, making his job fairly easy. The Silverbacks with a very vocal bench this evening, as all three coaches were non stop talking with the guys, giving direction, pointing things out on the white board, etc. The Silverbacks have won four of their five games in Vernon this year are now 7-2 vs the Vipers this season (pre-season, regular season & playoffs). A fairly good size turnout of Silverbacks fans that made a ton of noise at the game.
Energy Player of the Game:
Akito Hirose (2 assists)
1st Star: Trevor Adams (1 goal & 1 assist)
2nd Star: Jagger Williamson (2 goals & 1 assist)
3rd Star: Akito Hirose (2 assists)