Saturday, March 11, 2023

Vernon 2 Prince George 1

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 2.2 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 Vipers-Spruce Kings game as Vernon defeated Prince George 2-1 in front of 2,442 fans at Kal Tire Place.

Starting Goaltenders:

Vernon Vipers: Roan Clarke
Prince George Spruce Kings: Jordan Fairlie

1st Period: The Spruce Kings would get the early edge in play and within the first few minutes, Evan Fedele ripped a shot high from the high slot that just went up and over Roan Clarke and the Viper goal on a quality chance about two or so minutes into the hockey game. About five minutes in, Austin Fraser would be denied in front before Ty Gagno tried to bury the rebound but Roan Clarke battled/made a big save on the second opportunity. Three good chances early for PG. The Spruce Kings were up 7-0 in shots before Vernon eventually got their first shot on goal eight minutes into the opening frame. Just past the halfway mark, former Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Connor Welsh would be denied on an odd man rush. Shortly after it looked like a shot from the point went in and off Viper captain Seiya Tanaka-Campbell crashing into his own net giving Prince George a 1-0 lead at 10:52 the goal was awarded to Austin Fraser, assisted by Ty Gagno & Kai Greaves. With about six and a half minutes remaining, Anthony Cliche on what looked like an odd man rush, would be stopped on a quality chance. On the next shift Jordan Fairlie would have to make a difficult save off a shot from well out with bodies going to the goal. With about four minutes left in the period, Luke Ashton with a quality opportunity would be stopped by Jordan Fairlie. It was 1-0 Prince George after 20 minutes of play. The Spruce Kings got off to a good start and controlled the early edge in play and were the better of the two teams in the first half. PG carried the play, had more puck possession, zone time and had a couple of early scoring chances. The Snakes seemed to get going after giving up the games first goal and played much better in the second half, were the better team, had more puck possession, zone time and generated some opportunities. The Vipers were physical and finishing their checks, were outshot 7-0 at one point, before needing eight minutes to record their first shot on goal. Vernon outshot Prince George 11-8.

2nd Period: The Vipers would get the games first power play, just twenty eight seconds into the middle frame. It didn't take long before Luke Pakulak tied the game 1-1 at 0:42 Dylan Compton & Connor Welsh with the helpers. Just over a minute and a half later, Austin Fraser alone in the high slot looked to have Roan Clarke beat but the Viper goaltender made a big stop with the knob of his goal stick. Prince George would jump on their first PP just over four minutes into the period. Austin Fraser would be denied on a chance in front as the Snakes killed off the minor. Less then two minutes later, the Spruce Kings went back to the man advantage. Vernon Vipers starting netminder Roan Clarke had to be sharp, was forced to make a few big stops in close on a scramble at the top of the crease as Vernon got some big stops from their goaltender and killed off the penalty. Just as the penalty expired, Owen Goodbrand looked to get in behind the Viper defence before being crosschecked to the ice awarding a PG power play. Vernon would be forced to kill off yet another minor. With about seven minutes remaining, Connor Welsh on the wrap around would be stopped by Prince George Spruce Kings starting goaltender Jordan Fairlie. Fairlie couldn't control the rebound as I think Seiya Tanaka-Campbell couldn't bury the second opportunity on a scramble in front of the Prince George goal. Luke Ashton looked to have all day, alone in front tried a backhand but Jordan Fairlie stayed with the play and shut the door, keeping this game tied with about four and a half minutes left in the 2nd period. The Spruce Kings quickly moved the puck up ice after Ashton's opportunity, setting up leading scorer John Herrington. Herrington would be stopped by Roan Clarke. Back to back opportunities at both ends of the rink. It was 1-1 after 40 minutes of play. After the Vipers tied the hockey game on the PP in the opening minute, the Spruce Kings would get back to back to back power plays and due to that carried the play for most of the first half. Both teams were fairly even in the second half as tempers seemed to heat up a bit as the period continued. Both teams were playing physical and getting in one another's grill often. The Snakes PK was very good while the Spruce Kings PP had some looks/chances couldn't capitalize. Prince George outshot Vernon 13-7.

3rd Period: The hometown Vipers would get an early power play a minute into the final frame. Luke Pakulak would get an opportunity but that was about it as PG killed off the minor. Just over two minutes later, the Snakes went back to the man advantage and with some nice three way passing, captain Seiya Tanaka-Campbell found the open cage, giving Vernon their first lead of the evening, 2-1 at 5:53 Luke Pakulak and Reagan Milburn with the assists. This was a nice highlight reel goal. On the following play, Austin Fraser ran over Roan Clarke as a Viper defencemen went after Fraser while Clarke was lying on the ice, getting looked at from the team trainer. Clarke seemed to be ok and stayed in the game, while Fraser was sent to the sin bin for goaltender interference, giving the Snakes their third power play of the period and were only six minutes into the final frame. The Vipers would get some good looks but unable to capitalize with the man advantage. With about two and a half minutes left in regulation, Julian Facchinelli tried splitting the Prince George defence but couldn't deke out Jordan Fairlie who stayed with the play, making a big stop at the goal line, keeping this a one goal hockey game. The Spruce Kings would call a late time out and get Jordan Fairlie to the bench with about a minute to go. A lengthy shot from their own end, come within a foot or so of the goal crease as the Vipers couldn't hit the empty netter as the puck basically stopped just before the blue paint. PG would get a key faceoff in the attacking zone, and with a shot from the point almost tied the game on a redirect in front but the Vipers were able to get the puck and eat the clock and hang on for the 2-1 victory. The Snakes would get three early power plays within the first six minutes and were able to capitalize on one of them, which turned out to be the game winner. From there on in Vernon played a dump and chase style of game, were hitting the red line and getting the puck in deep. The Vipers were the better team and played very well defensively in the 3rd. One of the better 3rd periods in some time. The Viper defence kept the Spruce Kings to the outside, taking away the shooting lanes and limiting PG's opportunities. The Snakes were the better team. The Spruce Kings just couldn't gain any traction, had troubles getting pucks to the net and generating offence. This was a very defensive/tight 3rd period. Vernon outshot Prince George 7-2.

Vernon Vipers Top Player's:

Thomas Tien Isn't the biggest kid but plays big/hard, was a work horse this evening, played with a ton of jump/energy, was skating hard and buzzing all over the rink. Tien was hard in on pucks and the forecheck and wasn't afraid to get his nose in there and work for pucks along the wall. Took a few hits but kept going and pushed right back. 

Connor Welsh (1 assist) The former Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward picked up an assist on the Vipers first goal, had a quality chance on an odd man rush in the 1st period, played very well and has looked very good since returning to the lineup. I thought played/worked hard all night.

Ethan Merner was another forward that I liked tonight, thought played very well in the win. Saw a lot of ice time after being a scratch in last night's win over Salmon Arm. 

Luke Ashton Was one of Vernon's better d-men, played a strong game on the backend. How far has this kid come since the start of the season? Has improved and playing with a lot of confidence. Had two opportunities tonight, joined the rush and was involved in the offensive side of the game. 

Luke Pakulak (1 goal & 1 assist) Played very well, was hard to defend against in front of the crease, was physical and played well at both ends of the rink.

Roan Clarke (22 saves) Wasn't tested a whole lot tonight, but was forced to make some key saves, especially on the PK in the 2nd period. Clarke made three big stops early into the 1st period with the Spruce Kings pressing. 

Game Thought's: Vernon Vipers:

- The Snakes with another strong team effort and back to back wins

- Does anyone know what's wrong with Ethan Sundar? He's been out of the lineup for a long time

- The Vipers PK was very good last night and again this evening

- Another big crowd tonight. Tonight's attendance was announced at 2,442

- The Vipers limit Prince George to only two shots in the 3rd period

- This is the third time this season, the Vipers have won three straight games and their longest winning streak of the season

- Vernon improves to 16-6-1-2 at home 

- The Vipers next game is Friday vs the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters

- The Vipers have won three straight, four of their last five games and six of their last ten games

- The Snakes went 2-4 with the power play

- I really liked the Vipers 3rd period, thought their defence played very well. One of their better 3rd periods in a long time

- Max Borovinskiy played 23 games with Prince George before being traded to Vernon November 29th 2021

- The Snakes played very well tonight and this weekend. How much has this team improved since October/November? 

- What a nailbiter down the final few minutes to finish the hockey game

- The Vipers have four regular season games remaining before playoffs

- The Snakes have won ten of their last fourteen home games

- With the win, Vernon moves one point ahead of Wenatchee, are one point back of Prince George and three points back of West Kelowna

- Vernon played close to sixty minutes and was rewarded with the victory

- Tonight was the second game of a four game home stand

- Tonight was the Vipers first win over Prince George at home this season

- Vipers Assistant Coach Lukas Lomicky was an Assistant Coach with the Spruce Kings the past two seasons

- With the win, Vernon improves to 24-20-2-4 and move into 6th place

Prince George Spruce Kings Top Player's:

Kai Greaves (1 assist) I thought played very well on PG's backend

Owen Goodbrand was one of the more dangerous Spruce Kings forwards that played well in the loss

Austin Fraser was one of the better forwards, had several looks/opportunities through out the game

Jordan Fairlie (23 saves) Played very well in goal for the Spruce Kings. Both goaltenders played very well

Game Thought's: Prince George Spruce Kings

- The Spruce Kings went 4-3 vs the Vipers this season

- I spotted a small handful of Spruce Kings fans at tonight's game

- Prince George went 0-3 with the man advantage

- The Spruce Kings got off to a good start and had the early edge in play. PG was the better team in the first ten or so minutes of the opening frame, until Vernon seemed to get going

- With the score 1-1 the Spruce Kings had three power plays in the 2nd period to take the lead and couldn't

- The last time Prince George was in Vernon, the Spruce Kings won 8-0 October 22nd 

- These two teams won't meet each other again during the regular season

- Both teams were physical through out the game

- This was a very tight checking entertaining hockey game

- Tonight was the second game of a two game road trip

- The Spruce Kings had the Vipers where they wanted them to start the game, but allowed Vernon back into the game

- The Spruce Kings have lost seven of their last eleven road games

- PG has four regular season games remaining, two vs Salmon Arm and two vs Cranbrook

- The Spruce Kings have lost three of their last five games and lost six of their last ten games

- With the win, Prince George falls to 25-20-4-1 sit 5th in the Interior Division


Vernon Vipers:

Jonathan Horn (Injured)
Ethan Sundar (Injured)
Isaac Tremblay

Prince George Spruce Kings:

Luca Primerano
Brayden Skogstad

Energy Player of the Game:

Walker Erickson 

Three Star's:

1st Star: Luke Pakulak (1 goal & 1 assist)
2nd Star: Roan Clarke (22 saves)
3rd Star: Seiya Tanaka-Campbell (1 goal)

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 Vipers-Spruce Kings game.


Marty said...

I feel I must comment on the weekend games because I have been critical in the past. The pair of games this weekend were the best, most consistent games I think I have seen this year. The games were entertaining and Vernon played close to a full 60 minutes. These were high paced games and I think better overall team games. Earlier in the year I was very hard on the Vipers due to their "revolving door" mentality with regards to their roster. I believe McKee auditioned far too many players, some for only a few games, before trading or releasing them. The recruits had very little opportunity to adjust, feel comfortable and show us their game before they were gone. The Viper management expected a commitment from their recruits but offered very little commitment in return. I believe this approach has a negative effect on our franchise reputation and may effect recruiting top end players in future. However, credit where credit is due, it looks like the current roster finally has it figured out, playing with confidence and consistency, hopefully ready for a long playoff run.

In the Prince George game last night I see The Spruce Kings lost D-man Bhabra early. Although not a huge point getter I think he is one of their best puck moving defensemen.

Bobby C said...

What I noticed was the great officiating we had over the weekend. They actually let the teams play hockey and didn't call all the little things that a certain couple of refs #46 #131 do when they are in Vernon. The Vipers have a real chance to move up in the standings with 4 games left. The Warriors are spiralling in the wrong direction and dont have a favorable schedule to end the year but the Vipers need 3 wins at least and some help to move up to avoid Cranbrook in the first round.

PaulyWog54 said...

Totally agree, Marty, the Vipers team absolutely sucked big time early in the season but, as of the last 10 games or so have really played a more entertaining and competitive game.


Marco Foghat said...

I have to agree with the previous comments. The Vipers have been playing a much improved game compared to earlier in the season. There certainly was a revolving door of recruits but now the roster seems stable and able to compete. Looking forward to the final 4 games especially the final two regular season games here next weekend. Should be entertaining considering what is at stake which is the Vipers climbing out of seventh and into possibly fifth. I also have been relatively pleased with the officiating. The crew over the weekend let the teams play and called what needed to be called. Just hate it when we get those two refs who call every little thing. Just spoils the game for me.

Anonymous said...

Potentially could end up in 3rd place