The Vernon Vipers had one of their more consistent games of the season as they downed the Cowichan Valley Capitals 5-1 on Sunday afternoon. With the exception of three minutes in the final period, the Vipers were in control and played very well in all 3 zones.
A trend the Vipers have been able to use, is setting up in "Gretzky's Office" with players positioned in the slot. I know every team does it, but Vernon continues to score big goals at key times, including the opening goal as Liam Coughlin scored his 10th of the season. Chase McMurphy would score from the same spot off a great individual effort from Demico Hannoun to set him up. The Vipers made one mistake in the first and it was late as a 2 on 1 for the Caps resulted in Taki Pantziris finishing a nice passing play.
Early in the second, things weren't progressing as well for the Vipers in the offensive zone. The only goal was caused from keeping it simple as a point shot from Mark Hamilton hit Colton Sparrow and bounced in to increase the Viper lead to 2 goals.
The third period has typically been a good one for the Vipers, but with a 2 goal lead it was going to be interesting to see how they were going to deal with a desperate team. That question was put to rest just 40 seconds in as Riley Guenther snapped a wrist shot past Marotte from a sharp angle. The Caps goaltender reacted as if he didn't see it, so its hard to pin in on him. Chase McMurphy would tally again later in the period to put the game out of reach for good at 13:44. The Caps had an impressive final 3 minutes testing Austin Smith who was up to the test and very solid all afternoon. Final score 5-1.
My 3 Key Thoughts -
Consistency - The line of Liam Coughlin, Dexter Dancs and Michael McNicholas combined for 6 points on the afternoon. As proof of how good they've been, Coughlin has 7 goals in his last 6 games, McNicholas has 12 points in the last 6 games and Dancs also has 12 points in 6 games.
Points Outside the Division - The Vipers have 17 of 26 points against the Mainland and Island Divisions. Those points will prove crucial as the Vipers now play 4 straight against the Interior.
Chase McMurphy - It took 4 games for Chase McMurphy to score his first as a Viper. It wasn't from lack of effort. His obvious skill will really help the depth of this team.
Its been a nice month of November for the Vipers, but the real challenges happen at the end with games in Penticton and Trail, then home to West Kelowna and Merritt to end the month. The team is heading in the right direction before these challenges. The Snakes are hitting the road Wednesday for a midweek game against the Penticton Vees. You can hear it on 107.5 KissFM starting at 6:45.