The Vernon Vipers got a monkey of their back with a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Vees Friday night. The win is the Vipers first in Penticton since October 2010, a span of 25 months; it`s been awhile. Prior to Friday`s win the Vipers were win-less in their last six trips to the SOEC.
It was a great game to watch as both teams were battling from start to finish as the game had a real playoff like atmosphere to it. Both teams were engaged physically and emotionally and the almost 1, 800 fans at the SOEC made plenty of noise; the building on Eckhardt was buzzing.
It is a tough one for the Vees to stomach, losing at home to their fiercest rivals and losing in front of family, as it`s parents weekend in Penticton, However, the Vees shouldn’t hang their heads after this one, as they played a pretty darn good game. It just so happens the Vipers were that good as well and manufactured one more goal than the Vees did; this was a close contest that could have gone either way.
- Heck of a job by Cody DePourcq, Travis Blanleil and Cam Amantea, as the three kept the Vipers top-line off the score sheet. In fact, it was the Vees line that had more time in the offensive zone and created more scoring chances. The three have developed into a really solid-looking energy line that can cause some damage. Need a nickname for the three. Suggestions?
- Credit the Vipers for a strong start off the get-go. The Vipers came at the Vees early and at one point were out-shooting Penticton 7-0. The Vipers showed some real fire in their belly tonight and played with some desperation which seemed to get them going. Much different road team I saw tonight than in the last year and change.
- The Vees were without Rob Mann, a key piece defensively but still kept the Vipers under 30 shots; 26 to be exact and only five against in the third period. I thought the six on the back-end tonight really stepped up and collectively helped fill the void left by big number 71.
- Vernon’s best line in my eyes was Aaron Hadley, Jedd Soleway and Braedan Russell. All three are big boys and can skate pretty well for their size. Speaking of, the three did a good job in using their size to create space.
- Also have to mention the Vipers D-core, maybe it’s best performance against Penticton since the start of last year. They had a few hiccups along the way but were darn good at shutting things down when they were nursing a 2-1 third period lead. Ryan Renz, Brett Corkey and Geoff Crisfield had their best games against the Vees. Renz scored a pretty goal and looked a lot more effective in his own zone. Corkey just plays and skates a tonne and Crisfield kept his cool and was good in front of his own goal.
- Austin Smith was very sound in the Vipers net, as he held the fort when the Vees were trying to tie the game in the third. Smith battled through some heavy traffic to kick shots away in the final minutes of the third period. He looked like a cagey junior hockey veteran; oh he is that.
- Outside of the Hadley goal, I thought we saw one of Chad Katunar’s best games in quite some time. Katunar made a string of big saves in the third when the Vees were down 2-1. He had a terrific save in the first off Mike Roberts. In my books Katunar earned a start tomorrow.
- First Vipers win against the Vees since November 2nd, 2011; a span of four games.
- Nice touch by Louie Nanne on the Vees only goal. Didn’t panic because the clock was winding down. Nanne tracked down a loose puck and had a cheeky fore-hand flip go over the blocker of Austin Smith.
- The Vees need to find a way to crash the net more tomorrow night. They had 3 good net drives in particular and all three resulted in good scoring chances. The Vees need to get in the kitchen of Austin Smith so to speak. They appeared to score on one net-drive in the second but the referee never did signal a goal. To be honest, from my vantage point, I never saw the puck cross the line or even see the puck for that matter. Regardless, that scoring chance started from crashing the goal. More tomorrow.
- Copy and paste. I wouldn’t look into making drastic changes ahead of tomorrow’s rematch. Hockey and winning at this level is a process. It takes time to iron out the wrinkles and the Vees are a team that is still growing and will have their share of growing pains.
Looking forward to Saturday night.