Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Game 3 Fred Page Cup Finals: Prince George 4 Vernon 3 Overtime

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 missed 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 Vipers-Spruce Kings Game 3 of the Fred Page Cup Finals as Prince George defeated Vernon 4-3 in overtime in front of 2,268 fans at Kal Tire Place.

Starting Goaltenders:

Vernon: Aidan Porter
Prince George: Logan Neaton

1st Period: The Vipers got the early jump on Prince George off the opening puck drop. Vernon carried the play early and often. Six and a half minutes in the Snakes with the games first quality chance. Vernon sets up former Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Josh Latta at the side of the goal, didn't look to get a clean shot off, missed the top half of the open cage on a missed opportunity early. Around the midway mark Teddy Wooding at the side of the net, fired high and over the goal, missing on an open cage as Vernon was outshooting the Spruce Kings 11-2 at this point. About a minute or so later Logan Cash in the slot forced Logan Neaton with a big stop in close, keeping this a scoreless contest. With six and a half minutes remaining the Snakes left Corey Cunningham alone in the slot, forced Aidan Porter to make a large save in close, on the Spruce Kings first good look/quality opportunity of the hockey game. On the following draw PG wins the faceoff before Corey Cunningham is able to walk in untouched beat Aidan Porter low along the ice, giving Prince George a 1-0 lead at 15:32 Layton Ahac drew the helper. About a minute and a half later the Vipers would get the games first power play. The Spruce Kings did a good job at taking away time and space, kept Vernon's offence to the outside. The Snakes unable to really generate any kind of attack. In the dying seconds of the man advantage Josh Latta forced Logan Neaton to make a large right pad save, keeping the Vipers off the scoreboard. It was 0-0 after 20 minutes of play. The Vipers dominated the period, carried the play through out the opening frame, had a ton of good looks but had a lot of shots blocked. Vernon with several good looks, were by far the better team, needed a goal instead surrendered a late goal. This was a period where the Vipers needed to take advantage of their strong play and go ahead by at least a goal or two. The Spruce Kings blocked a lot of shots are good defensively, kept the Snakes snipers to the outside, are strong on the puck, have an aggressive forecheck. PG forced the Vipers to move the puck in a hurry, taking away time and space. Vernon outshot Prince George 18-8.

2nd Period: Off the opening faceoff the Vipers give up a three on one but it was Trey Taylor who made a strong defensive play, breaking up the play. Shortly after Ben Sanderson setup Teddy Wooding who redirected Sanderson's pass past Spruce Kings starting goaltender Logan Neaton tying the game 1-1 at 1:42 Sanderson & Carver Watson collected the assists. Off the following faceoff tempers heated up in a hurry with the first real sign of emotions showing in this series. A fairly large scrum occurred with everyone minus the goaltenders, lots of pushing and shoving and players exchanging words. Max Coyle, Nolan Welsh, Landon Fuller & Lane Zablocki all were sent to the sin bin. Coyle and Fuller didn't stop talking as the two exchanged some heated words between the two penalty boxes. Coyle was very agitated towards Fuller as the two wouldn't stop for a good minute. Seven minutes in Spruce Kings captain Ben Poisson in on an odd man rush would be denied by Vernon Vipers starting goaltender Aidan Porter. Porter stayed with Poisson all the way, cutting down the angle before making the stop. Two minutes later on another odd man rush Ben Poisson couldn't get the pass across after a solid defensive play by the Snakes, breaking up the PG attack. Just past the halfway mark Josh Latta with a burst of speed, tried beating the last d-man back ripped a shot from the circle would be stopped by Logan Neaton. With about seven minutes remaining Viper forward/captain Jagger Williamson one on one fired a shot from the high slot, forcing Logan Neaton to make the stop. On the following play/shift the Spruce Kings would get their first PP of the evening. With lots of looks PG would capitalize towards the end of the man advantage. Max Coyle's shot beat Aidan Porter giving Prince George a 2-1 lead at 14:56 Layton Ahac picked up the lone assist. Vernon would get a late power play and capitalize. Jagger Williamson spotted former Kelowna Rockets forward Lane Zablocki tying the game 2-2 at 18:27 Williamson and Jesse Lansdell drew the helpers. Emotions were running high through out the middle frame and didn't stop at the buzzer as Landon Fuller and Dustin Manz were exchanging words for a good minute as the officials had to break the two up and send both players to the dressing rooms. It was 2-2 after 40 minutes of play. The first five or six minutes was very even as both teams went back and fourth in a quick paced period before Prince George slowly took over the game and carried the play for a good six to seven minutes. The Snakes went at least six or seven minutes without a shot on goal. After that it was fairly even with not a lot of quality scoring chances at both ends of the rink. A very feisty 2nd period as emotions boiled over through out the period. Prince George was getting under the skin of Jagger Williamson through out the period. Williamson looked to be off his game at times, was exchanging words with several PG players often. Jesse Lansdell started the game with a full shield, started the middle frame with just his regular visor. Prince George outshot Vernon 9-8.

3rd Period: Tempers heated up quickly to start the final frame after another altercation took place just twenty nine seconds into the 3rd period. With what looked to be an early Vernon power play, turned into four on four after Jagger Williamson took an undisciplined minor to even things up. The Spruce Kings seemed to have the early jump on the Snakes. The Vipers looked flat footed early and were back on their heels with PG pressing. On with what looked like to be an icing call, wasn't called which allowed the play to continue. Ben Poisson setup Nicholas Poisson who roofed a shot up and over Aidan Porter, giving Prince George an early 3-2 lead at 2:47 Ben Poisson collected the assist. Mark Ferner and the Vipers bench argued the play should have been blown down for icing, lost the battle as the goal stood and game continued. About seven minutes in Teddy Wooding from an impossible angle almost banked the puck in and off Logan Neaton who had to squeeze the pads tight falling backwards as the puck lied on the goal line, as the Snakes come very close to tying the game. With about seven minutes remaining in the contest Josh Latta and Vernon product Matt Kowalski get in behind the PG defence, Latta sets up Kowalski going to the goal, would be robbed after Logan Neaton stretches across the blue paint to make a large pad save, keeping this a one goal game as most people inside Kal Tire Place thought the game was tied. A highlight reel save by the PG netminder. This play seemed to give the Vipers a bit of a boost as Vernon struggled earlier getting any kind of traction would slowly come on. With pressure the Snakes had several good looks but had troubles getting pucks through as the Spruce Kings defence was keeping Vernon to the outside and blocking several shots. With time winding down Teddy Wooding setup Lane Zablocki who ripped a shot off the crossbar and in tying the game 3-3 at 17:40 Wooding picked up the lone assist as Kal Tire Place went into a frenzy. Mark Ferner and the Snakes would call a late timeout with 1:30 remaining. Inside the final minute on a lengthy dump in, Logan Neaton had some difficulty on a puck that handcuffed the Spruce Kings goaltender, almost snuck through his blocker/arm on a close play with fifty one seconds remaining. With the Vipers pressing, Vernon had several good looks, were firing everything towards the goal. Logan Neaton was forced to make a big stop with about twenty seconds left before a Viper missed an open cage on the following play. Lots of action inside the final minute before the final buzzer. It was 3-3 after 60 minutes of play. PG with a strong start had the Vipers back on their heels, before taking the lead on an early goal. The Vipers had all kinds of trouble gaining any traction for a lot of the 3rd period. It wasn't until the final six-seven minutes where the Snakes come on, had good pressure late before tying the game late. The Vipers then come very close to putting the game away inside the final minute. The Snakes had the better of the chances. Vernon outshot Prince George 14-7.

Overtime: About four and a half minutes into the extra frame Josh Latta on a quick shot from the circle forced Logan Neaton to make the save before getting the rebound as the puck went through Neaton's pads and rolled through the crease. Back come PG the other way, Ben Poisson got by the Vernon defender before cutting hard to the goal, looked to have Aidan Porter beat but somehow the Vipers netminder made a large save in tight, keeping this game tied. Shortly after Jagger Williamson and Max Coyle got involved in some pushing and shoving after the whistle, as the two continued to tangle. Both players would be sent to the sin bin, as both players were exchanging words in the penalty box. Just past the midway mark Ben Poisson on a rebound in front buried his opportunity, giving Prince George a 4-3 overtime victory at 12:07 and a commanding 3-0 series lead as the Spruce Kings bench erupted onto the ice. Nicholas Poisson with the assist. Both teams went back and fourth for most of the extra frame, didn't get a lot of chances. I thought the Vipers looked a little sluggish/tired in overtime where as the Spruce Kings still looked to have their legs going. Shots were 7-7.

Top Player's: (Vernon)

Landon Fuller I thought played well on the Vernon blueline. Was a physical force, involved in the play offensively and defensively.

Josh Latta I thought played well, created/generated some looks-opportunities, was using his speed to open the ice, create room, played hard all night.

Teddy Wooding (1 goal & 1 assist) Played well for most of the game. Had some looks-opportunities, played hard, battled and competed.

Logan Cash Had a strong game up front for the Snakes. I thought played hard, fought hard for his opportunities, was skating, moving the puck, in and around the net.

Trey Taylor Had a heck of a game defensively. Made at least two if not three solid defensive plays. Playing with a lot of confidence right now and doesn't look out of place.

Lane Zablocki (2 goals) Was physical in the opening frame, hard to play against, in your face, was getting under the skin of several PG players. Battled/competed hard, was going to the net, looking for opportunities. Scored a big goal late in the middle frame to tie the game, then scored a big goal late in the 3rd to force overtime. Was very active and was one of the Vipers more consistent players the last two months of the season, has been quiet in the playoffs until tonight.

Aidan Porter (27 saves) Wasn't the busier of the two goaltenders, was still forced to make a handful of big stops in tonight's contest.

Game Thought's: (Vernon)

A tough loss for the Vipers in a game where I thought they played very well for most of the hockey game. Other then maybe a six to seven minute span in the middle frame, when PG took over the play I thought Vernon held their own against the Spruce Kings and could have won. I thought the Snakes had the better looks and quality chances. The opening frame is what cost the Vipers the hockey game. Vernon outplayed and dominated the first twenty minutes, outshot PG 18-8 but were down 1-0. This is a period where the Snakes needed to bury/capitalize on some of their chances and jump out to at least a one or two goal lead, instead your down a goal heading into the middle frame. Give the Vipers credit, they never played with the lead but managed to battle back to tie the game each time, forcing overtime. The Snakes didn't get a lot of bounces/or puck luck had to work extremely hard for all three of their goals. It just seemed after Vernon had a good chunk of play, with some good looks-opportunities, PG would come back the other way and score/capitalize on their first shot. The Snakes were always playing catchup and forced to come from behind. The Vipers went with just three lines in the 3rd. The Vipers fourth line which has looked very good these playoffs was almost unnoticeable tonight. The Snakes have lost three straight games for the first time in these playoffs. After holding their own and coming close in the first two games in Prince George, the Vipers needed to win tonight, in order to get back in the series. Down 3-0 facing a very tough/strong Spruce Kings team, the Snakes have a long mountain to climb. A great crowd on hand for tonight, especially for a midweek game. I was surprised at how many fans left after the 3rd period. Former Vernon Lakers forward and Vernon Vipers head coach/gm Troy Mick (1984-1986 & 1993-2000 & 2005-06) was in attendance. Former Vernon Vipers forward David Robinson (2006-07 & 2009-2011), forward TJ Dumonceaux (2012-2015), goaltender Danny Todsychuk (2011-2015) and defenceman Riley Guenther (2013-2015) were also at tonight's game. Whoever is in charge of the music, thank you for finally changing things up, it seemed like the last few years and even into this year the same old, dull boring yet outdated music was being played, game after game. I have noticed in the new year the music has changed and more variety. I also really like/enjoy the guy who plays the trumpet! What a fabulous job! Gets the crowd into the game! Really adds to the atmosphere.

Top Player's: (Prince George)

Layton Ahac (2 assists) Had a very solid game on the PG backend. Was involved in the play defensively & offensively. A smooth skater, moves the puck well, reads/sees the play.

Dustin Manz Isn't the biggest kid but plays big. Engaged in the game, plays hard, quick on his feet, really showed his emotions tonight, getting involved exchanging words with Landon Fuller at the end of the 2nd period. Used his quickness to open up the ice, created/generated open ice.

Corey Cunningham (1 goal) Was dangerous in and around the goal. Had some looks/chances. Was hard to defend against. Played very well in the win.

Ben Poisson (Overtime winner-1 assist) The Spruce Kings captain had a very strong evening. I thought was one of the more dangerous players offensively. Had some good looks-opportunities, was going to the net, involved in the play, made things happen. Was hard to contain/defend against.

Max Coyle (1 goal) Was under the Snakes skin all night. Was hard to play against. Chirping all night, involved in the after the whistle activities, taking jabs after the play/whistle, looked to get several Vipers off their game at times.

Chong Min Lee This kid is quick, has some wheels, Can really move the puck, hard to contain/defend against. Creates a lot of open ice, makes plays happen in a hurry.

Logan Neaton (44 saves) Was by far the busiest of the two netminders, making several big stops through out the period. Made 18 saves alone in the opening frame, in a period when his team was outplayed, gave his team a chance to win. Was the difference in the hockey game by far. Without Neaton I don't think PG is as strong as they are. This kid obviously keeps them in a lot of contests and bails them out from time to time. The perfect remedy for success.

Game Thought's: (Prince George)

The Spruce Kings heavily relied on Logan Neaton in the 1st period in a period where PG was outplayed and outshot but up a goal. The Spruce Kings have a very aggressive forecheck, strong defence and solid goaltending. Prince George did a tremendous job at shutting down Vernon's top units. Matt Kowalski and Connor Marritt were almost invinsible. Ben Sanderson who has been one of the Vipers more consistent forwards in these playoffs, wasn't to be seen. The Spruce Kings take away time and space, limit the Snakes chances and block a lot of shots. The funny thing was Vernon fired 47 shots towards the PG goal, had a good fifteen or more shots blocked tonight. Prince George clogs up the front of the net, allowing Logan Neaton to see everything, with no traffic-second opportunities. PG is quick, moves the puck in a hurry and capitalizes on their chances. The Spruce Kings didn't really generate a whole lot of chances but more scored on their opportunities. This was just the second time Vipers fans have had the chance to see the Prince George Spruce Kings this season. For some fans the first time. This is a very good hockey team, a team that went to the league finals last year but lost in five games to Wenatchee. This was a very entertaining hockey game. The Spruce Kings are one win away from their first league championship in franchise history. Prince George has now won an impressive twelve games in a row are 15-1 in the playoffs and 6-1 on the road. The Spruce Kings have won thirteen of their last sixteen road games. PG has only surrendered twenty six goals the entire playoffs. A good turnout of Spruce Kings fans in attendance tonight. I also spotted a few Chilliwack Chiefs fans at the game.



Will Dow-Kenny
Nick Cherkowski
Elan Bar-Lev-Wise

Prince George:

Spencer DenBeste
Craig MacDonald
Liam Watson Brawn

Energy Player of the Game:

Carver Watson (1 assist)

Three Star's:

1st Star: Ben Poisson (overtime winner-1 assist)
2nd Star: Lane Zablocki (2 goals)
3rd Star: Logan Neaton (44 saves)

Boxscore-Game Summary:

Game Report,

Text Boxscore,

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