Saturday, April 1, 2023

1st Round - Game 1 West Kelowna 4 Vernon 3

I was born and raised in Vernon, BC and been watching/following Junior hockey in Vernon my whole life. My family watched Senior men's hockey in Vernon in the 1950's and has been watching Junior hockey in Vernon since it started in 1961. I have two family members that played Junior hockey in Vernon. I have had season tickets since 1990 and missed 5 home games since 2004 and 46 home games since 1990. I started and created this blog in November 2008 and have over 2.3 million viewers. For anyone who couldn't watch or attend tonight's Vipers game, here are my thoughts and views from tonight's hockey game. You may agree or disagree, but we all have our own opinion on the hockey game and see things differently. I try to be professional and give a fare game recap from both sides. Thank you for visiting my blog.

I was at tonight's Vernon Vipers-West Kelowna Warriors Game 1 of the 1st Round of the playoffs as West Kelowna defeated Vernon 4-3 in front of 1,041 fans at Royal Le Page Place.

Starting Goaltenders:

Vernon Vipers: Roan Clarke
West Kelowna Warriors: Cayden Hamming

1st Period: About a minute into the hockey game, the Vipers looked to spring Lee Parks in for the breakaway but the Warriors hustled back and forced Parks to re-group and not get a shot off. About four minutes into the period, and the Warriors still looking for their first shot of the contest, Christopher Duclair hustled down the left wing before ripping a shot from the circle that just missed the net on a good look/opportunity. Just past the midway mark, the Warriors would get their first shot on goal, before Brennan Nelson buried the rebound, giving West Kelowna a 1-0 lead at 9:09 Chrsitopher Duclair and Dylan Brooks with the assists. About a minute and a half later, the Snakes sprung Thomas Tien in for the breakaway but would be denied by Vernon product Cayden Hamming. Shortly after Lee Parks snapped home a quick shot from the circle, tying the game 1-1 at 13:19 Hank Cleaves and Anthony Cliche picked up the helpers. With about five minutes remaining, Roan Clarke misplayed the puck that lead to a scramble, but luckily for Vernon the Tribe didn't generate any real threats and the Snakes were able to clear the zone. It was 1-1 after 40 minutes of play. The Vipers were the better of the two teams, had more puck possession and zone time. The Snakes didn't generate very many opportunities, had troubles getting pucks to the net. The Warriors needed almost nine minutes to record their first shot on goal, which lead to the games opening goal. West Kelowna was back on their heels a bit to start but seemed to settled down a bit as the game went on. WK played well defensively, keeping Vernon to the outside and limiting their chances. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 6-5.

2nd Period: The Tribe had a good look inside the opening minute, couldn't solve Roan Clarke who made a big stop from in close before the Vipers responded with a good push back shift. Griffen Barr tried setting up Julian Facchinelli on an odd man rush just over a minute into the middle frame but Facchinelli couldn't connect on the pass, missing what looked like a wide open cage. About fifty seconds later the Vipers would get the games first power play and capitalized early. Lee Parks spotted Griffen Barr in close, giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 2:22 Lee Parks & Julian Facchinelli drew the assists. About three minutes later, the Tribe would get their first look with the man advantage and capitalize. Jaiden Moriello somehow found a hole and snuck in between Roan Clarke and the post, tying the game 2-2 at 6:38 Isaiah Norlin with the lone helper on a goal I think Roan Clarke would like to have back. Shortly after Jaiden Moriello tried to deke out Vernon Vipers starting goaltender Roan Clarke with two Viper defenders draped all over him, looked to have Clarke beat but somehow the Viper netminder sprawled across to make an unreal pad save on the goal line, keeping the puck out and the game tied. On the next play or two later, Connor Elliott's point shot forced Cayden Hamming into squeezing his pads tight, making a difficult save from well out. In and around the halfway mark, West Kelowna sprung Riley Sharun in for the breakaway but would be denied by Roan Clarke. About a minute later, Vernon would get their second PP of the period. The Vipers struggled and didn't get any real good looks other then Hank Cleaves missing an open net, fired high and over the goal, as WK killed off the penalty. About three minutes later, Lee Parks turned over the puck at the blueline, allowing Brennan Nelson to steal the puck before spotting Nic Porchetta for the one timer, giving West Kelowna a late 3-2 lead at 16:08 Brennan Nelson with the assist. It was 3-2 West Kelowna after 40 minutes of play. The Warriors were the better team, played and looked much better in the 2nd period compared to the opening frame. West Kelowna seemed to have their legs going, carried a lot of the play, had more puck possession, zone time and played well defensively. The Tribe blocked a few shots and for a second straight period, didn't give up a whole lot of opportunities. Vernon didn't look the same after a strong 1st period. The Snakes had troubles gaining any kind of traction, getting control of the puck and generating offence. The Vipers passing wasn't sharp and on the tape. Late in the period, a bad turnover in their own end, cost them a goal and instead of heading to the 3rd tied, their down a goal. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 10-9.

3rd Period: Inside the opening minute of play, Julian Facchinelli with a hard working shift, won the battle along the boards, spotted Seiya Tanaka-Campbell going to the net. The Viper captain would be denied by Cayden Hamming in close. The Tribe responded with a push back shift, opened some ice, that allowed Christopher Duclair's shot from well out to somehow beat Roan Clarke, giving West Kelowna an early 4-2 lead at 1:52 Brennan Nelson picking up the lone helper. Just over two minutes later, it looked like Vernon was going on an early power play after Roan Clarke was bumped in the crease. This lead to some pushing and shoving and now instead of going on the power play, both teams were headed to the sin bin and both teams went to four on four. About a minute into four on four, WK would jump on the power play. Roan Clarke had to be sharp after making two big back to back stops off Christopher Duclair and Michael Salandra before Isaiah Norlin looked to give West Kelowna a 5-2 lead, somehow fired wide, missing an entire empty net. The Snakes get some big saves from their goaltender and a little luck and manage to kill off the minor. As the penalty was winding down, the Vipers would jump on the PP but struggle. Vernon unable to get a shot on goal as the Tribe kill off the penalty. With about eight minutes remaining in the period, it looked like the Warriors had an open net but either missed the net or Roan Clarke made the stop, either way the game continued. Shortly after Luke Pakulak setup Hank Cleaves at the circle, cutting West Kelowna's lead to 4-3 at 13:07 Luke Pakulak with the assist. About two minutes later with the Snakes pressing, Julian Facchinelli's shot shot from the slot, forced Cayden Hamming into making a quick reaction save with his left pad, keeping this game at 4-3 with about five minutes remaining. The Vipers would get a late PP with about four minutes to go in Game 1. Vernon would get a few looks but unable to capitalize as West Kelowna killed off the minor. The Vipers would get Roan Clarke to the bench with about 1:45ish remaining. The Tribe took a shot from well out, just missed the open cage before the Warriors would finish the hockey game on the power play inside the final minute of play. Off the draw, Michael Salandra with a quick shot from the slot, thought he scored but hit the post as the play continued. The Vipers would get Roan Clarke back to the bench for the extra attacker but would run out of time as West Kelowna took Game 1 4-3. I thought the Warriors were the better team in the first half and the Vipers responded well and had the edge in play in the second half. Christopher Duclair scored 1:52 into the period, stood up as the game winner. Both teams had some good looks & opportunities as both goaltenders played well in the 3rd. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 12-9.

Vernon Vipers Top Player's:

Griffen Barr (1 goal) Scored on the power play, I thought played well at both ends of the rink. Barr has been playing forward for the last little while but also played some defence tonight. I thought made some smart plays both on offence and defence this evening

Hank Cleaves (1 goal & 1 assist) Played well in the loss, missed an open net on a 2nd period power play

Lee Parks (1 goal & 1 assist) Played well through out the game, had a few looks and some open ice to try and generate some offence

Roan Clarke (19 saves) Wasn't tested a lot but did make a few big saves during the game, with the score close.

Game Thought's: Vernon Vipers

- I thought Vernon played a heck of a good 1st period, looked very good but couldn't finish the same way they started. I thought the Vipers looked sluggish in the 2nd period, had troubles gaining any kind of traction, didn't generate enough pressure in the offensive zone and needed to get shots off more quickly. Played a little better in the 3rd finishing with a strong push but unable to capitalize with a late PP 

- The Snakes didn't generate or create a lot of scoring chances tonight in the first two periods. Only a select few in the first two periods before getting their most in the 3rd period

- Lot's of Viper fans in attendance tonight

- Vernon went 1-4 with the power play

- The Vipers are 0-2-0-2 in West Kelowna this season (regular season & playoffs)

- The Vipers won Game 1 in West Kelowna 5-2 during last year's Playoffs before losing the next four games

- Vernon struggled with their passing, especially coming out of their own end

- Game 2 goes tomorrow night in West Kelowna

- I thought the officials did a good job at letting both teams play hockey and made the calls that were needed to be called

- The Snakes went 1-2-0-2 vs the Warriors during the regular season

- Vernon with way too many turnovers tonight

- The Vipers need to get a little more traffic and bodies in front of Cayden Hamming

- This was an exciting/entertaining hockey game that could have gone either way

- The Snakes with a must win in Game 2 don't want to come home down 2-0 or this could be a short series

- The Vipers need to generate a whole lot more offence if they want to be able to beat West Kelowna. Tonight they didn't generate enough opportunities

- I think Vernon can play much better and more consistent 

- Games 3 & 4 go Tuesday & Wednesday in Vernon

- The Snakes need to do a better job at breaking out of their own end

- Vernon with a turnover late in the 2nd gives up a goal to trail heading into the 3rd period, before giving up an early goal to start the 3rd. You never want to give up a goal late in a period or to start a period

- The Vipers have won (regular season & playoffs) three of their last five games and seven of their past ten games

- Vernon's last win at Royal Le Page Place was a 5-2 victory in Game 1 of last year's playoffs

West Kelowna Warriors Top Player's:

Ben MacDonald (1 assist) Wasn't a stand out but did have several shifts where he was hard to contain/defend. Is very shifty, a smooth skater and can make plays happen in a hurry

Rylee Hlusiak I thought played a hard fought game. Blocked at least two shots, battled/competed and played well at both ends of the rink

Brennan Nelson (1 Goal & 2 assists) Was one of the better forwards for the Tribe in the victory. A veteran forward who played well through out the hockey game

Isaiah Norlin (2 assists) Always seems to play well vs the Vipers and did so again tonight. Picking up two helpers, played a lot of minutes on the back end, was good at both ends of the rink

Nic Porchetta (1 goal) Was another forward I thought stood out and played hard through out the game. Blocked a shot or two, competed and was in and around the net

Aiden Reeves (1 assist) The Warriors captain was physical/in your face and under the Vipers skin at times, played a big role/minute eater on the West Kelowna blueline

Christopher Duclair (1 goal & 1 assist) Here is another kid who seems to play well vs the Vernon Vipers. Duclair with a two point evening, is quick on his feet, played well in the Game 1 victory

Cayden Hamming (25 saves) From Vernon, BC facing his hometown Vipers for the first time this season, made 25 saves in his first career BCHL playoff game. Hamming wasn't tested often in the first two periods, saw a little more action and chances from the Snakes in the 3rd was forced to make a couple of saves with the Vipers pressing

Game Thought's: West Kelowna Warriors

- The last time the Warriors & Vipers met, the Vipers won 4-3 in Vernon February 11th

- West Kelowna went 1-3 with the man advantage

- The Warriors didn't seem to have their legs going to start Game 1 and didn't look that great in the opening frame but played and looked much better in the 2nd and 3rd periods

- A good sized crowd tonight as tonight's attendance was announced at 1,041

- Warriors forward Christopher Duclair's older brother Anthony Duclair plays for Florida Panthers

- I can't believe the officials allow Simon Ferguson to complain after almost every play or call. The Warriors Head Coach/GM is always calling over an official or giving to an official through out the game. Reminds me when Bill Bestwick did the same sort of thing when coaching the Nanaimo Clippers many years ago

- The Tribe played well defensively, kept Vernon's shooters to the outside and limited their opportunities as well as closed the shooting lanes and blocked a lot of shots

- The Warriors eliminated the Vipers in five games during last year's playoffs

- Cayden Hamming got the start in goal as starting netminder Justin Katz is injured

- I thought the Warriors played very good 2nd and 3rd periods

- Both teams didn't generate or create a whole lot of chances in the first two periods. Both teams had more opportunities in the 3rd period

- Warriors Head Coach/GM Simon Ferguson and Assistant Coach Ayrton Nikkel were both wearing masks behind the bench

- WK got some timely goals and key times in the hockey game

- The Warriors have lost five of their last seven home games (regular season & playoffs)

- Warriors Assistant Coach Josh Gorges played 14 seasons in the NHL with Montreal, Buffalo & San Jose 


Vernon Vipers:

Connor Welsh
Ethan Merner
Ethan Sundar (Injured)

West Kelowna Warriors:

Matt Fusco (Injured)
Felix Caron (Injured)
Justin Katz (Injured)

Energy Player of the Game:

Aiden Reeves (1 assist)

Three Star's: 

1st Star: Brennan Nelson (1 goal & 2 assists)
2nd Star: Christopher Duclair (1 goal & 1 assist)
3rd Star: Lee Parks (1 goal & 1 assist)

Boxscore-Game Summary,

Game Report,

Text Box Score,

Vernon Junior Hockey History website,

Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions in the comment box below. Please be respectful when leaving comments.

Here are some photo's I took before and during tonight's Vernon Vipers-West Kelowna Warriors game.

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