Friday, 31 January 2014

Game 48 Preview - Smokies @ Vipers

The Vernon Vipers started off the new year with a 4-1 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters, tonight they look to end January with a victory.  The month of January hasn`t been kind to the Vipers as they will finish the month under .500 for the first time all year long.  They still hold their fate in their hands as they head into the final month of the regular season.  For the Smokies, its all about building for next year.  Players are playing for jobs, 20 year olds are playing out the remainder for the days ahead.  This team can be very dangers as they showed at the beginning of the month.  Until recently they had been playing great hockey, before suffering a 8-1 loss in Merritt.  Its a big game for the Vipers to try generate some momentum.

Season Series - October 15 - Vipers 6 Trail 3 - Kal Tire Place
                      - November 22 - Vipers 4 Trail 1 - Cominco Arena
                      - December 1 - Vipers 6 Trail 3 - Kal Tire Place
                      - December 13 - Vipers 6 Trail 3 - Kal Tire Place
                      - January 3 - Trail 4 Vipers 1 - Cominco Arena

Vernon Vipers 

Record - 23-15-4-5 - 3rd in the Interior Division

Home Record - 13-5-3-3            Away Record - 10-10-1-2

Leaders - Goals - Brett Mulcahy (26)
             - Assists - Michael McNicholas (37)
             - Points - Michael McNicholas (57)

Goaltending - Austin Smith - 26 GP - 12-8-3-2, 2.75 GAA, .913Sv%
                   - Danny Todosychuk - 22 GP - 10-6-1-2, 3.08 GAA, .902Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 16th in the league - 26 for 174 - 14.94%
                       - Penalty Kill - 7th in the league - 161 of 197 - 81.73%

Trail Smoke Eaters 

Record - 9-34-2-3

Home Record - 5-16-2-1           Away Record - 4-18-0-2

Leaders - Goals - Bryan Basilico (10)
             - Assists - Jesse Knowler (17)
             - Points - Jesse Knowler (23)

Goaltending - Dustin Nikkel - 24 GP - 4-16-2-1, 4.18 GAA, .881Sv%
                   - Adam Todd - 18 GP - 3-11-0-3, 4.57 GAA, .888Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 14th in the league - 35 for 199 - 17.59%
                       - Penalty Kill - 13th in the league - 154 of 195 - 78.97%

Tonights game is Viper defenseman Josh Bryans 200th BCHL game, so a big congratulations goes out to him!  All the action will be on the Vipers MixLR starting at 6:45!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Vipers and Cents Battle to 4-4 Tie

When two teams put on a show like the Vipers and the Cents did on Saturday night, sometimes there are worse things than a draw.  There are times when it looked like both teams were about to put the other away, but in the end some solid goaltending kept it a draw.

The Vipers jumped out to an early lead just 98 seconds into the game after Riley Guenther let a slap shot go from the right point that found its way past Devin Kero.  The Cents would respond after Scotty Patterson stole a puck at the Viper blue line and snapped it past Todosychuk to get it even up.  There was a nice spirited tilt between two number 12's as TJ Dumonceaux and Rhett Willcox dropped the mitts with both players landing some good shots.  The period would end in a 1-1 tie.

The Cents would start the second on the powerplay, but would score shortly after it expired as Jeff Wight jammed home a loose puck to give the Cents a 2-1 lead.  The Vipers tallied after TJ Dumonceaux finished off a 2 on 1 to tie the game at 2.  The tie was shortlived as Payton Schaefer scored just 44 seconds later to give his team another lead.  Just under 3 minutes later Logan Mick would be in the right place at the right time after Devin Kero bobbled the puck behind his net to make it 3-3 after 2.

With both teams eyeing the two points the third, they were very tight defensively, until a Daniel Nachbaur found some room in the slot to give the Cents a 4-3 lead.  The Vipers didn't give up as another quick response, this time from Dexter Dancs, found its way past Kero to get the game tied up at 4.  Demico Hannoun would be assessed a 5 minute major for high sticking Rhett Willcox after a conversation at the penalty box.  From where I was standing, I didn't see the whole incident, but the Vipers were able to kill it off and get the game to overtime.  Nothing was solved in the 10 minutes following and both teams would skate away with a point.

My 3 Key Thoughts

1) - Nice Respsonse - The Vipers were down 3 times in the game and came back all three times to force overtime.  It wasn't just the timing of the tying goals, but the way they were scored.  A nice two on one goal from Dumonceaux, pressuring the goalie into a mistake capitalized on by Mick and a beautifully placed wrist shot from Dancs on a 3 on 2.  The team was without Michael McNicholas and Mason Blacklock, and scoring goals in that building can be tough let alone when you're behind three times, but the Vipers were able to do tie it and will be happy with the one point.

2) - PK Stellar - The PK was outstanding once again for the Vipers and really saved the game at crucial times.  Most importantly a five minute major with just five and a half minutes to play in regulation when the game was tied up at 4.  I would go as far as saying that it was the turning point of the game.  There was maybe one good chance for the Cents on the powerplay, but the Vipers did a good job of forcing Merritt to shoot the puck in, then quickly send it back down the ice not allowing any set up time.

3) - Small Victories - Its come to the point in the season for the Vipers where right now when the wins just aren't coming you need to factor in the small victories.  For this team, battling through the major penalty, 3 deficits and still getting a point in a building that is never easy for the opposition its a small victory they can build on for Friday against Trail.

Next up for the Vipers is a home matchup against the Trail Smoke Eaters.  Its an internet only broadcast that you can hear starting at 6:45.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Vipers Suffer Rare Loss at Home 6-1 to Vees

The Vernon Vipers didn't have the performance they were expecting on Friday night against the Penticton Vees.  At times the energy level was there, but some bounces went against them and they just couldn't recover.  

The Vipers came out with a solid start to the game, moving the puck well, skating and playing physical.  An early powerplay helped getting some shots and time of possession.  They didn't capitalize, but seemed to get momentum.  The Vees would get a powerplay and their number ranked man advantage would go to work as Erik Benoit would pot home a rebound.  It would take only 8 seconds for the Vees to increase their lead off the stick of Cody DePourcq and the score was 2-0 after 1.

In the second, the ice was tilted in the Vipers favour, but once again it was a goal from the Vees as Jarod Hilderman would get his first BCHL goal.  The Vipers didn't hang their head and once again kept the pressure on the Vees.  They would be rewarded as Logan Mick would bang home a loose puck to make it 3-1.  A few minutes later the Vees would regain the three goal lead as Shane McColgan would score his first as a Vee.  Then another powerplay would be converted on by Penticton as Cody DePourcq scored his second of the night.  That would spell the end of the night for Austin Smith and the stat line wasn't pretty.  After 2 periods it was 5-1 Vees.

No surprise, but the Vees pretty much locked it down and prevented much through the neutral zone.  Josh Blanchard would tack onto the Vees lead with his third of the season to make it 6-1, but it was inconsequential as the Vipers would fall to the division leaders 6-1.

My 3 Key Thoughts - 

1) - Somethings Missing - And that something is a consistent effort from a good number of players.  For the third straight game it appeared that there were a few passengers and that is something that will leave a coaching staff and fan base perplexed.  At times it just looks like going through the motions and clearly its being noticed by the coaching staff as TJ Dumonceaux and Logan Mick continue to see their ice time increase, while others see theirs drop.  

2) - Unfriendly Division - With the loss, the Vipers are now 0-5-0-1 against the Interior Division in their last 6 games.  That is a stat they would love to turn around with 10 of the last 12 against divisional foes.  They are just a game above .500 against the Interior Division after the loss Friday.  There is no question this division is one of, if not the toughest, throughout Junior A hockey, but this club will need to find away to have success against the division, if they are to have a long playoff run.

3) - Looking To Leaders - In situations like the one the Vipers are in now, you have to look to your leaders.  This team is chalked full of leaders and I expect those leaders to step up down the stretch.  Of course there is still no need to panic, but the bad habits have to be worked out and there is no time like the present.

The Vipers are back on the ice in Merritt on Saturday night to face the Centennials.  They will look to shake off a tough 4-1 loss the last time they were in the NVMA.  All the action is on KissFM starting at 7:15 with the pregame show and play by play starting at 7:30.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Game 46 Preview - Vees @ Vipers

Its been two weeks to the day since the Vipers and the Vees duked it out at Kal Tire Place and tonight they'll do it again.  The Vipers come in still battling the consistency bug although the last 3 games over the weekend were much better efforts.  The results just weren't there.  Getting those three points were important and didn't get burned in the standings and still sit 4 points above the Silverbacks and 6 points ahead of the Cents.  This week, the Vipers need to see the results on the scoreboard as well the effort level.  For the Vees, they come in scuffling with just a point in their last three games all in divisional matchups.  This isn't a foreign feeling for the Vees who struggled at this point last season before going on to battle for the BCHL Championship.  For the first time in nearly three years however, they have found their lead atop the division in question as the Warriors are within 4 points with 2 games in hand.  The standings remain tight and every game is important.

Season Series - September 25 - Vipers 3 Penticton 1 - Kal Tire Place
                      - October 25 - Penticton 6 Vipers 5 - 2OT - SOEC
                      - November 20 - Penticton 5 Vipers 2 - SOEC
                      - January 10 - Penticton 2 Vipers 1 - Kal Tire Place

Vernon Vipers 

Record - 23-14-3-5 - 3rd in the Interior Division

Home Record - 13-4-3-3          Away Record - 10-10-0-2

Leaders - Goals - Brett Mulcahy (26)
             - Assists - Michael McNicholas (37)
             - Points - Michael McNicholas (57)

Goaltending - Austin Smith - 25 GP, 12-7-3-2, 2.61 GAA, .916Sv%
                   - Danny Todosychuk - 20 GP, 10-7-0-1, 3.06 GAA, .902Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 16th in the league - 26 for 169 - 15.38%
                       - Penalty Kill - 6th in the league - 155 of 189 - 82.01%

Penticton Vees 

Record - 27-11-2-4 - 1st in the Interior Division

Home Record - 14-4-0-3          Away Record - 13-7-2-1

Leaders - Goals - Brad McClure (33)
             - Assists - Brett Beauvais (39)
             - Points - Brad McClure (62)

Goaltending - Hunter Miska - 25 GP, 13-4-2-4, 2.27 GAA, .915Sv%
                   - Olivier Mantha - 21 GP, 14-6-0-0, 2.28 GAA, .911Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 1st in the league - 39 for 174 - 22.41%
                       - Penalty Kill - 1st in the league - 147 of 168 - 87.50%

This is the 5th matchup up of the season between these two teams with the Vees holding the slight edge.  All the games have been close and it should be a fun one from Kal Tire Place.  Its internet only tonight and starts at 6:45 with the pregame show.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Vipers Rally, But Fall in OT to Silverbacks

It was a very busy week of hockey for the Vernon Vipers who had 4 games in 7 days.  Many will look at the 3 out of a possible 8 points as a sign that the team didn't play well, but the progression and improvement from Tuesday night, to Sunday afternoon was immense, despite only getting one win.  It culminated in what I thought was the best performance from the Vipers who played with edge, energy and desire, but once again a bounce or two was the difference.

There were a ton of fireworks in the opening period with three different fights.  Starting just 11 seconds into the game when Jared Wilson and Jeff Kennedy squared off.  3 minutes later, Tyler Povelofskie and Jack Berezan dropped the mitts.  Then the teams started to settle down and let the talent take over as both teams went back and forth.  A bad turnover at the Viper blue line led to the opening goal of the game as Alex Gillies would notch his 24th of the season.  Another scrap later in the period between Liam Coughlin and Blake Box would keep the emotion level at a high, but it was the Silverbacks with a 1-0 lead after 1.

I thought the Vipers had a real good second period despite being outshot.  The Silverbacks started shooting from everywhere and I thought that was a benefit for Danny Todosychuk would looked like he was battling the puck early.  All the shots in the second seemed to refocus the Vernon product and he was very good the rest of the way.  The Vipers got the only goal in the period as a nice passing play was finished off by Brett Mulcahy who now has 3 goals in his first 5 games with the Snakes.  Teams went back and forth to end the period and both goaltenders made key saves to keep it 1-1 after 2.

Vernon really came out with a high energy level in the third, but would find themselves behind on a crazy series of events which had the puck bounce off the boards, two players and Alex Jewell to find its way into the back of he net.  Breaks like that have gone against the Vipers over the past few games, but they were able to re-focus and get the game tied less than 3 minutes later as a two on one was finished off by Liam Coughlin.  This game seemed destined for OT, but it only got there thanks to more great goaltending from Todosychuk and Clark.

One shot was the difference in OT as Andrew Farny's point shot was tipped by Alex Gillies to give the Backs their second consecutive 3-2 OT victory.

My 3 Key Thoughts (on the whole week)

1) - Better As The Week Went On - I thought the Vipers best two games of the week were Friday in West K and Sunday in SA.  You may think I'm crazy, because the Vipers only got 1 point in those games.  In both games, the Vipers played well enough to win.  Friday's loss was a direct result of penalty trouble, Sunday they got a point, but the crazy pinball goal out of no where forced the Vipes to play from behind.  It was a very bland effort on Tuesday in Merritt, but they regrouped with a good effort in West K, a win over AV at home and a tough OT loss in SA.  Assuming they can continue that momentum into this week, it should be a fantastic two games against Penticton and Merritt.

2) - Discipline - For the first time all season, the Vernon Vipers didn't take a single penalty that resulted in a powerplay for the opposition.  At times this team has battled penalty trouble and Sunday afternoon they played right on the line of physical without going over the line.  I thought the referee did an outstanding job of letting the teams play a physical brand of hockey.  It allowed the emotion to come out and it was only a matter of time before the fights were over and both teams played hockey again.  The two penalties that resulted in powerplays were stick infractions.  It just goes to show that less is sometimes more when it comes to the men in the striped shirts.

3) - Move On To The Points - There were just enough positives to take out of the 4 games in 7 days for the Vipers.  However, with two games upcoming against Penticton and Merritt, the Vipers will look to harness those positives and turn them into points.  No question the week has been frustrating, but its how you respond that makes a team great.  The log jam in the Interior division is more clogged now than a week ago, a four point week will go along way to help the Vipers ensure they have a spot in the playoffs.

Up next for the Vipers is a Friday night matchup against the Penticton Vees at Kal Tire Place.  Puck drop between the two rivals will be 6:45 with puck drop at 7.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Game 45 Preview - Vipers @ Silverbacks

The Vernon Vipers have struggled lately on the road losing their last 5 games away from the friendly confines.  It won't get any easier this afternoon as they make the short trip to the Shaw Centre to battle the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.  The Backs hold a slight edge in the season series with 3 wins and two of them on home ice.  Both teams are coming off impressive wins, the Backs over the Vees and the Vipers over the Bulldogs.  It goes without saying these two teams don't like each other much, so the entertainment value should be at an all time high.

Here's the break down:

Season Series - September 13 - Salmon Arm 6 Vipers 1 - Shaw Centre
                      - September 14 - Salmon Arm 6 Vipers 5 - 2OT - Kal Tire Place
                      - October 5 - Vipers 3 Salmon Arm 2 - Shaw Centre
                      - November 1 - Vipers 2 Salmon Arm 1 - Kal Tire Place
                      - December 14 - Salmon Arm 4 Vipers 2 - Shaw Centre

Vernon Vipers

Record - 23-14-3-4 - 3rd in the Interior Division

Home Record - 13-4-3-3          Away Record - 10-10-0-1

Leaders - Goals - Brett Mulcahy (25)
             - Assists - Michael McNicholas (36)
             - Points - Michael McNicholas (56)

Goaltending - Austin Smith - 25 GP, 12-7-3-2, 2.61 GAA, .916Sv%
                   - Danny Todosychuk - 19 GP, 10-6-0-1, 3.07 GAA, .901Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 16th in the league - 26 for 167 - 15.57%
                       - Penalty Kill - 6th in the league - 155 of 189 - 82.01%

Salmon Arm Silverbacks

Record - 21-17-1-5 - 5th in the Interior Division

Home Record - 13-7-0-2          Away Record - 8-10-1-3

Leaders - Goals - Landon Smith (37)
              - Assists - Landon Smith (29)
             - Points - Landon Smith (66)

Goaltending - Adam Clark - 29 GP, 13-12-1-2, 2.91 GAA, .910Sv%
                   - Angus Redmond - 19 GP, 8-5-0-3, 2.83 GAA, .911Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 9th in the league - 32 for 176 - 18.18%
                       - Penalty Kill - 10th in the league - 142 of 175 - 81.14%

All the action between these divisional foes begins at 2:45 from the Shaw Centre.  You can hear it on 107.5 KissFM.

Vipers Rebound with 4-1 Win Over Bulldogs

Home ice remains a place that Vipers utilize to get back on track and Saturday night was no exception.  They were one step ahead of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs all  night and skated away with a 4-1 win.  The top line got back on the board and the great play of the gritty players finally led to some offense.

Just like a night before, the Vernon Vipers came out skating hard.  Getting pucks deep and really flowing through the neutral zone.  Nice passes from the D zone helped that, but things were just going in the right direction.  The Vipers would get on the board first off an odd man rush as Logan Mick would score his first in quite some time.  The Vipers killed off a double minor and turned it into momentum.  However, the best player on the ice for the first thirty minutes of this game was Nathan Warren, but we'll talk about him a bit later.  The Vipers scored a crucial goal late in the period as Michael McNicholas would pick the top corner from in close to make it 2-0 after 1.

An early PP I thought would allow the Bulldogs to carry the play early, despite not being able to score.  The Bulldogs were also a little sloppy and the Vipers had a number of odd man rushes and once again Nathan Warren made a handful of huge saves to keep his team in the game.  Late in the period it seemed the Bulldogs would reward their goalie after a crazy pinball goal would be credited to Mitch Owsley.  The Vipers responded immediately as Dexter Dancs would finish off a nice passing play just 33 seconds later to get the lead back to 2 after 2.

The Vipers tightened up in the third despite some nice attempts from the Bulldogs to get back into the game.  Austin Smith was tested a number of times, but was up to the challenge.  Brendan Persley would seal the game with his 5th of the season just shy of the midway mark.  That would be the way the game ended after two more kills for the PK unit.

My 3 Key Thoughts

1) - Logan Mick - Without question he is playing his best hockey of the season.  At times its been a struggle for Mick offensively, but starting Tuesday and Friday Mick has been using his feet and speed and that combination has led to a number of quality chances.  It was at the point where you knew at some point those breaks were going to go in and he did convert for his third of the season.  When you can get contributions from guys like Mick, Dumonceaux and the other depth guys, it will only serve this team well.

2) - Top Line Contributes - Whether its complacency or teams putting more focus on the Vipers top players, they came in sputtering offensively, tonight they were in on 2 of the 4 Viper goals.  McNicholas, Dancs and Coughlin created numerous chances and scored two beauties.  Sometimes I think this threesome struggles because they don't often score ugly goals.  The talent is there and the highlight reel is full of goals these guys can score.

3) - Nathan Warren - In what was a surprise start, Nathan Warren was given his first BCHL start.  Despite being greeted rudely by the Vipers early, he settled down and made at least 5 impressive saves.  The game could very well have been 5 or 6 nothing in the middle period had it not been for the PG products great play.  Its going to be tough for the young man to get ice time behind Connor LaCouvee, but this performance will show the Bulldog coaching staff, that he's up to every challenge.

The Vipers get back at it for a Sunday matinee at the Shaw Centre starting at 2:45 with the pregame show.  You can catch all the action on 107.5 KissFM.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Game 44 Preview - Bulldogs @ Vipers

A little home cooking to be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Vernon Vipers tonight.  Last night in West Kelowna, the effort was there, but the hockey gods weren't smiling on the Snakes and they would fall 5-3.  Some positives to carry into tonight, the powerplay goal, the work of the PK and the energy level.  2014 hasn't been kind to Vernon so far, but they'll look to right the ship against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.  The bulldogs are in a "dog fight" with the Cowichan Capitals for the final playoff spot in the Island Division.  Expect them to come out and play spirited hockey.  They have good goaltending, a good powerplay and the desperation to make the playoffs.  Their road record isn't great, but they come in having won two in a row over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

Here's the matchup:

Season Series - October 20 - Vipers 7 Alberni 4 - Weyerhauser Arena

Vernon Vipers

Record - 22-14-3-4 - 3rd in the Interior Division

Home Record - 12-4-3-3         Away Record - 10-10-0-1

Leaders - Goals - Brett Mulcahy (25)
             - Assists - Michael McNicholas (35)
             - Points - Michael McNicholas (54)

Goaltending - Austin Smith - 24 GP, 11-7-3-2, 2.68 GAA, .914Sv%
                   - Danny Todosychuk - 19 GP, 10-6-0-1, 3.07 GAA, .901Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 16th in the league - 26 for 166 - 15.66%
                       - Penalty Kill - 9th in the league - 149 of 183 - 81.42%

Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Record - 13-22-3-5 - 5th in the Island Division

Home Record - 8-10-0-2            Away Record - 5-12-2-3

Leaders - Goals - Tryg Strand (14)
             - Assists - Hunter Stewart (27)
             - Points - Hunter Stewart (36)

Goaltending - Connor LaCouvee - 25 GP, 16-8-0-3, 2.89 GAA, .912Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 8th in the league - 32 for 174 - 18.39%
                       - Penalty Kill - 15th in the league - 124 of 161 - 77.02%

These two teams may be from different divisions, but the two points up for grabs are important to both sides.  All the action starts at 6:45 on 107.5 KissFM.

Bounces Go Against Vipers in 5-3 Loss in West K

If the Vipers didn't have bad luck, they'd have no luck at all.  Calls and bounces got away from what was a pretty solid effort from Vernon tonight in a 5-3 loss.

The Vipers had a nice start to the game, moving their feet and throwing the body.  The forecheck was also effective and it resulted in Dexter Dancs getting the Snakes on the board first.  A fortunate bounce for the Warriors had David Pope snapping home a shot from the circle to tie the game up.  A Viper powerplay would give them the lead once more off the stick of Jared Wilson.

Colton Sparrow would increase the lead to 3-1 after a steal in the offensive zone.  That was the best it would get for the Vipers as West Kelowna would get within one off the stick of Liam Blackburn.  Shortly after that on a 5 on 3 powerplay Carl Hesler would convert to tie the game up.

Final period had all the bounces and calls going against the Vipers.  A five minute major would be assessed to Brett Mulcahy and the Vipers killed off 4 minutes and 53 seconds of it before Tyson Dallman gave his team their first lead of the game.  An even strength goal late in regulation would seal as the Warriors win it 5-3.

My 3 Key Thoughts

1) - Missed Calls - There were missed calls on both sides of the ledger tonight, but what I think had the Vipers most frustrated was the fact that a non call at one end, would end up a call at the other.  The Vipers were close to bailing themselves out of trouble on two different occasions, but the Warriors made those breaks count.

2) - Turning Point - The turning point in this game wasn't the 5 minute major penalty, it wasn't the fourth line fights in the first period, it was a toe save by Andy Desautels off Michael McNicholas.  The score was 3-1 Vernon at that point.  If the Snakes get a 3 goal lead, I don't think this game would've ended in a loss.  The save was made and Blackburn got the game within one.

3) - Channeling Frustration - When you play a good game and don't win and you feel absolutely frustrated and stumped as to what went wrong, it is key to channel the frustration and refocus for the next one.  Luckily for the Vipers they will get at it less than 24 hours later at home.  The Vipers are very good at the friendly confines and will look to come out determined to get this month and weekend turned around.

You can catch all the action at Kal Tire Place starting at 6:45 on 107.5 KissFM.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Game 43 Preview - Vipers @ Warriors

The offensive struggles for the Vernon Vipers continued on Tuesday Night in Merritt and tonight won't be any easier.  Tonight the Vipers square off with the hottest team in the BCHL in 2014.  The Vipers are 4 and 6 in their last ten and are being tested by adversity on each and every night.  One night its penalty trouble, another its a lack of shots and finally even a lack of fortunate bounces despite the effort level being there.  The main focus for the Vipers is stringing together as close to a 60 minute effort as possible.  On the other side of ice tonight is a team that is 8-1-1 in their last 10, a team unbeaten in 7 and a team outscoring their opponents 29-12.  On paper this matchup seems onesided, but thats the beauty of sport, anyone can win on any given night.

Here's the breakdown:

Season Series - September 17 - West K 5 Vipers 3 - Royal LePage Place
                      - November 8 - Vipers 5 West K 3 - Kal Tire Place
                      - November 23 - Vipers 2 West K 2 - OT - Kal Tire Place
                      - December 18 - Vipers 3 West K 1 - Kal Tire Place

Vernon Vipers

Record - 22-13-3-4 - 3rd in the Interior Division

Home Record - 12-4-3-3          Away Record - 10-9-0-1

Leaders - Goals - Brett Mulcahy (25)
             - Assists - Michael McNicholas (34)
             - Points - Michael McNicholas (53)

Goaltending - Austin Smith - 24 GP, 11-7-3-2, 2.68 GAA, .914Sv%
                   - Danny Todosychuk - 18 GP, 10-5-0-1, 2.95 GAA, .903Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 16th in the league - 25 for 163 - 15.34%
                       - Penalty Kill - 6th in the league - 147 of 179 - 82.12%

West Kelowna Warriors

Record - 14-12-2-2 - 2nd in the Interior Division

Home Record - 12-8-1-0          Away Record - 12-4-1-2

Leaders - Goals - Jordan Masters (17)
             - Assists - Jason Cotton/Seb Lloyd (25)
             - Points - Jason Cotton (41)

Goaltending - Andy Desautels - 36 GP, 21-9-2-1, 2.33 GAA, .917Sv%
                   - Cody Porter - 8 GP, 3-2-0-1, 3.74 GAA, .868 Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 14th in the league - 30 for 180 - 16.67%
                       - Penalty Kill - 15th in the league - 126 of 165 - 76.36%

The last loss the Warriors had was 7 games ago and it was the Vernon Vipers with a 3-1 victory at home.  This series essentially switches to Royal LePage Place where the Warriors are very good.  Only time will tell if this is a first round playoff matchup, but tonight should be a war and it'll be fun to watch/listen to.  All the action is on 107.5 KissFM starting at 6:45!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Vipers Can't Overcome Three Goal Period and Fall 4-1 To Cents

The Vernon Vipers continue to fight through inconsistent play to start 2014 and tonight was one of those nights where the effort just didn't seem to be there from start to finish.  A sloppy third period would benefit the Cents as they would score three and the Vipers couldn't quite get back into it and would lose 4-1.

It was the prototypical tight checking first period at the Nicola Valley Arena as the Cents and Vipers would remain scoreless.  I counted 4 quality chances, two for each team as Kero had to make a save and thank his goalpost, while Austin Smith thanked his post twice.  Shots were dead even at 8 and neither team really looked like they had the advantage.

The second however, wasn't a good one for the Vipers as they just seemed to lose their legs and the energy level was lacking.  The Cents out hit, out skated and out chanced the Vipers in that period and that seemed to disrupt the Viper breakouts.  The Cents would draw first blood of a defensive turnover as Adam Tracey was the recipient of a pass from Rhett Willcox and the Cents led 1-0.  A little over three minutes later Jeff Wight would snap a shot passed Austin Smith to make it 2-0.  Frustration started to mount for Vernon and they were called for four straight penalties.  The Cents would get a late powerplay marker as Diego Cuglietta would get a few whacks at the lose puck in the blue paint to make it 3-0 after 2.

There was one line that was flying all night for the Vipers and those three would be rewarded with a ton of ice time in the third.  Tyler Povelofskie, TJ Dumonceaux and Logan Mick had multiple chances throughout the game and managed to maintain their energy level.  The played a lot in the third as they tried to chip away, but it was Ryan Renz breaking the goose egg making it 3-1, but that was as close as they would come as the Cents would shut the door the rest of the way and add an empty netter and win 4-1.

My 3 Key Thoughts

1) Tough 2014 - This is not the way the Vipers were hoping or expecting to start 2013, now with a record of 2-3-0-0.  There is no question the talent is there, but for whatever reason the effort lacks at times and in this league you can't take too much time off in a game or teams will take advantage.  Tonight was a prime example as the second was not well played at all.  Its a bit of a head scratcher, but the team will get a chance to shake it off with three games in three nights over the weekend.

2) Road Woes - The Vipers are now 0-4 in their last 4 games away from Kal Tire Place.  After getting out to such nice road record, the team seems to struggle with confidence away from home.  There is no better time than the present to kick that slump and they'll get two opportunities in tough buildings in West Kelowna and Salmon Arm.

3) Viper Snipers - With the exception of newly acquired Brett Mulcahy, the top Viper offensive players have cooled off after a great end to 2013.  Its been three games since the line of Dancs, Hannoun and McNicholas had goals and weren't able to generate much against the Cents.  It was at the point where Jason Williamson split up that line and placed Logan Mick on that line hadDancs playing with Povelofskie and Dumonceaux.  I fully believe this team is a bounce or two away from getting back to that extended 7 game win streak they had back in October.  Its just a matter of consistency.

Another tough task awaits the Vipers as they head to Royal LePage Place for the second time this season on Friday Night.  You can hear all the action on 107.5 Kiss FM starting at 6:45.

Game 42 Preview - Vipers @ Centennials

Lately the Vernon Vipers have been playing .500 hockey.  They are 5 and 5 in their last ten games and seem to be battling consistency.  Last time out, the Vipers managed to overcome quite a bit of adversity to win 3-1 and tonight is a chance to put two wins together for the first time in 2014, but it won't be easy.  The Vipers travel to Merritt to face the Centennials in a building that is tough for any opponent.  The Vipers road record is two games above .500, but the Cents have only lost 5 times in regulation all year long at home.  The Cents have also had their issues in 2014 with only 1 win and will be looking to track down the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for the final playoff spot.

Here's the matchup:

Season Series - September 21 - Merritt 3 Vipers 2 - OT - Kal Tire Place
                      - October 26 - Merritt 1 Vipers 0 - Kal Tire Place
                      - November 15 - Vipers 4 Merritt 3 - OT - NVMA
                      - November 29 - Vipers 4 Merritt 0 - Kal Tire Place

Vernon Vipers

Record - 22-12-3-4 - 2nd in the Interior Division

Home Record - 12-4-3-3            Away Record - 10-8-0-1

Leaders - Goals - Brett Mulcahy (25)
             - Assists - Michael McNicholas (34)
             - Points - Michael McNicholas (53)

Goaltending - Austin Smith - 23 GP, 11-6-3-2, 2.66 GAA, .916Sv%
                   - Danny Todosychuk - 18 GP, 10-5-0-1, 2.95 GAA, .903Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 16th in the league - 25 for 160 - 15.63%
                       - Penalty Kill - 6th in the league - 143 of 174 - 82.18%

Merritt Centennials 

Record - 20-17-3-1 - 5th in the Interior Division

Home Record - 10-5-3-1              Away Record - 10-12-0-0

Leaders - Goals - Scott Patterson (20)
              - Assists - Sebastien Pare/Diego Cuglietta (23)
              - Points - Scott Patterson (36)

Goaltending - Devin Kero - 30 GP, 13-13-3-1, 2.46 GAA, .919Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 7th in the league - 32 for 168 - 19.05%
                       - Penalty Kill - 5th in the league - 151 of 183 - 82.51%

Last time these two teams played in this building it was one of the better games of the season for both teams but it was the Vipers coming out with a 4-3 OT win.  Both teams need these points and we'll see which team can get it done.  All the action starts at 6:45 on 107.5 KissFM!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Vipers PK Comes Up Big In 3-1 Win Over Express

The Vernon Vipers penalty kill was outstanding, Brett Mulcahy scored twice and Austin Smith made 31 saves as the Vipers defeated the Coquitlam Express 3-1.  At times the game absolutely dragged on, but the team managed their frustrations and earned the all important two points.

Neither team was overly impressive in the opening frame.  It was pretty sloppy, but I thought the Express had the edge in quality chances.  Each teams penalty kill was perfect so were the goalies.  Coquitlam out shot the Vipers by a 8-3 margin.

The second period was an interesting one to say the least.  The Vipers were penalized 5 times and scored on only once, which is a small victory in itself.  The Express worked the puck around nicely when Mark Whiteley would put a shot to the goal and Jace Hennig would pot home the rebound to give Coquitlam a 1-0 lead.  More and more penalties in the middle frame started to frustrate the Vipers, but their PK would shut it down from there including a nice 63 second 5 on 3 kill.  That seemed to spark some life into the team and Colton Sparrow would draw the Vipers even as he would snap home a wrist shot on a partial break down the right wing.  It was a key goal with just 90 seconds left in the period to get it tied into the intermission.

The Vipers came out much better to start the third as some nice board work would result in a pass to the slot and Brett Mulcahy would get his first as a Viper to make it 2-1.  At times the game opened up and both goalies had to be very good.  It took a late powerplay for the Vipers to get their third goal and once again it was Mulcahy slipping it through Dushenko for his second of the night and a 3-1.

My 3 Key Thoughts

1) - Shut Down the Snipers - It was one of my keys to the game in the pregame show and I thought despite all the time the Coquitlam powerplay had, Rockwood and Rosenthal were kept relatively quiet.  Its not very often a team shuts down two of the top 10 scorers in the BCHL especially with 8 powerplays against, but the PK did it and that was a direct reflection on the two points for the Vipers.

2) - Fitting In - Brett Mulcahy scored two goals in the third period, the game winner and the game sealer, but it was the intangibles that had Jason Williamson singing his praises.  The goals are a bonus, but his work in the defensive zone and the face off circle were what really stood out.  He's a veteran guy coming into a situation that could fit him like a glove and if tonight was any indication of what we'll see from him the rest of the way, he could put up some nice numbers

3) - PK Power - At times recently, the Vernon Viper PK hasn't been as sharp as it had been early in the year.  Tonight, they were the reason Vernon was able to win the game.  They killed off 7 of 8 chances and it lead to the momentum shift in the Vipers favour.  More efforts like this will be required, especially with a busy week of hockey coming up.

It wasn't pretty, but it was effective and the Vipers will definitely take it.  Next up for Vernon is a road trip Tuesday night to the Nicola Valley to face the Merritt Centennials.  You can catch all the action starting at 6:45 on 107.5 KissFM.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Game 41 Preview - Express @ Vipers

If the Vernon Vipers bring the type of energy and emotion from last nights game into tonight, there is a good possibility the Vipers could come out with two points.  The Vipers got away from their game for just a few minutes last night and it cost them in a 2-1 loss to the Vees.  There were a lot of positives to take out of the game and the Snakes will look to carry it into tonight against the Express.  As for Coquitlam, they come in after a tough outing in West Kelowna.  They were down early and couldn't recover as they would lose 7-2.  Coquitlam has battled consistency all season long and will look for their first win in 2014.  They have a ton of speed and offense, we'll see how they handle the big rugged defenders of the Vipers.

Time for the breakdown:

Season Series - December 8 - Coquitlam 4 Vipers 2 - Poirier Sports Centre

Vernon Vipers 

Record - 21-12-3-4 - 3rd in the Interior Division

Home Record - 11-4-3-3            Away Record - 10-8-0-1

Leaders - Goals - Brett Mulcahy (23)
             - Assists - Michael McNicholas (34)
             - Points - Michael McNicholas (53)

Goaltending - Austin Smith - 22 GP, 10-6-3-2, 2.74 GAA, .913 Sv%
                   - Danny Todosychuk - 18 GP, 10-5-0-1, 2.95 GAA, .903 Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 15th in the league - 25 for 156 - 16.03%
                       - Penalty Kill - 7th in the league - 136 of 166 - 81.93%

Coquitlam Express

Record - 18-17-1-3 - 3rd in the Mainland Division

Home Record - 8-11-1-2           Away Record - 10-6-0-1

Leaders - Goals - Ryan Rosenthal (23)
              - Assists - Adam Rockwood (42)
              - Points - Adam Rockwood (50)

Goaltending - Gordie Defiel - 30 GP, 13-14-1-1, 3.99 GAA, .874 Sv%
                   - Pierce Dushenko - 11 GP, 5-3-0-1, 4.34 GAA, .871 Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 9th in the league - 31 for 168 - 18.45%
                       - Penalty Kill - 10th in the league - 150 of 185 - 81.08%

The Express already hold a victory over the Vipers and they'll look to dish out some redemption.  All the action gets underway at 6:45 on 107.5 KissFM.

Vipers Fall Out Of Second Place With 2-1 Loss To Vees

Two of the top teams in the Interior Division went head to head at Kal Tire Place and to no one's surprise it was an entertaining affair.  The game had some real edge to it as both teams know there could be a possible playoff matchup at some point.  These two teams stack up well against each other with the smaller, quicker forwards of the Vees going up against the big physical Viper defense.  It was a well played game that was tight the entire 60 minutes.

I thought the Vipers got out to a good start in the opening 10 minutes getting some chances and it appeared they had a "shoot from everywhere" mentality.  They had some chances and forced Hunter Miska to be sharp.  Contrary to that the Vees had some push back in the next 5 minutes or so as it was Danny Todosychuk's turn to make a handful of saves.  It was the Vipers striking first as a scramble in the Vees goal found the stick of Mason Blacklock and he made no mistake with his 18th of the season to make it 1-0 late in the period.

The Vees did a nice job regrouping in the intermission and really pushed the pace on the Vipers.  It seemed as though the Vipers got away from the physical game that allowed them success in the opening period.  The speed of the Vees finally seemed to catch up with the Vipers who got caught running around and Penticton would make them pay with a little luck.  A crazy flurry of activity in front of the Viper goal would bounce off Nic Pierog to get the game tied up and just 63 seconds later a wrap around from Erik Benoit would give the Vees the 2-1 lead after 2 periods.

I called it gut check time in the intermission for the Vipers to see how they would respond against a team that is comfortable and confident when leading after 2 periods.  I thought the response was perfect as they pushed the pace, got the physicality back in their game and outshot the Vees.  The hockey gods however, were not on the Vipers side tonight as Hunter Miska was very solid and a few bounces that just didn't go the Snakes way and they would fall 2-1.

My 3 Key Thoughts

1) Nice Rivalry - It is sincerely a treat to call a game between two offensively and defensively gifted teams like these two.  There is clearly a dislike and a rivalry between these teams and it showed at all times.  It may have been low scoring, but I thought this game was played well by both sides and the next three head to head matchups should be equally as entertaining.

2) Newest Vipers - We didn't hear or see much from Brett Mulcahy and Dylan Chanter during the game and I don't think thats necessarily a bad thing.  Both guys are trying to sync up with the rest of the guys and the systems the coaching staff have implemented.  Mulcahy was good in the face off circle and defensively responsible and Chanter and Renz seemed to have nice chemistry.

3) Out of Second - For the first time in a while, the Vernon Vipers aren't in second place in the Interior Division.  I don't believe that this is going to weigh on the minds of the players or coaching staff.  The truth is, they played well enough to win, but couldn't find the right bounce.  This game could've gone either way and it just didn't go in the Vipers favour.  The West Kelowna Warriors are playing outstanding hockey, but there are still 16 games left with most games within the Interior Division.  Ground can be gained and lost in just a weeks time and with 9 weeks left, I anticipate a race to the finish line.

Next up for Vernon is a home matchup against the Coquitlam Express.  You can hear the game on 107.5 KissFM starting at 6:45!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Game 40 Preview - Vees @ Vipers

Its been nearly two months since the top two teams in the Interior Division last met.  The two teams look different from the ones that played on November 20th, but I think it won't take long for this rivalry to heat up as the race to the finish line continues.  With 17 games left in the regular season and 4 games head to head the importance of this one is at an all time high, at least until the next one.  The Vipers and Vees have both bolstered their lineups before the trade deadline and boast an impressive range of depth top to bottom.  Its going to be an exciting evening of hockey, plus its BCHL Five Hole For Food Challenge and we encourage you to bring non-perishables for donation to the Food Bank!

Here's the matchup:

Season Series - September 25 - Vipers 3 Penticton 1 - Kal Tire Place
                      - October 25 - Penticton 6 Vipers 5 - 2OT - SOEC
                      - November 20 - Penticton 5 Vipers 2 - SOEC

Vernon Vipers

Record - 21-11-3-4 - 2nd in the Interior Division

Home Record - 11-3-3-3           Away Record - 10-8-0-1

Leaders - Goals - Brett Mulcahy (23)
             - Assists - Michael McNicholas (34)
             - Points - Michael McNicholas (53)

Goaltending - Austin Smith - 22 GP, 10-6-3-2, 2.74 GAA, .913 Sv%
                   - Danny Todosychuk - 17 GP, 10-4-0-1, 3.01 GAA, .900Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 16th in the league - 25 for 155 - 16.13%
                       - Penalty Kill - 8th in the league - 134 of 164 - 81.71%

Penticton Vees

Record - 25-9-2-3 - 1st in the Interior Division

Home Record - 14-3-0-2              Away Record - 11-6-2-1

Leaders - Goals - Brad McClure (31)
              - Assists - Brett Beauvais (38)
              - Points - Brad McClure (58)

Goaltending - Hunter Miska - 21 GP, 12-3-2-3, 2.33 GAA, .915Sv%
                   - Olivier Mantha - 20 GP, 13-6-0-0, 2.30 GAA, .909Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 1st in the league - 33 for 155 - 24.52%
                       - Penalty Kill - 1st in the league - 132 of 153 - 86.27%

Vipers fans will get their first look and the two new acquisitions of Dylan Chanter who will wear number 24 and Brett Mulcahy who will wear number 15.  It should be a fun night of hockey at Kal Tire Place.  If you can't make it down to the rink, tonights game is internet only on the Vipers MixLR!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Newest Vipers Set To Make Debut On Friday Night

The trade deadline remains two days a way and there has been a flurry of activity from the Interior Division as the teams try acquire the right mix to make a long run in the post season.  The Vernon Vipers were no exception as they first acquired the playing rights to Dylan Chanter and then traded for the Surrey Eagles captain Brett Muclahy.

Let's start with Dylan Chanter.  Here are his career BCHL numbers:

2013 - 2014 SeasonVernon Vipers00000.0000000
2012 - 2013 SeasonMerritt Centennials56911200.40300031
2011 - 2012 SeasonMerritt Centennials53211130.20000047
CAREER TOTALS  1091122330.30300078

He's a very imposing figure on the ice standing at 6'3 and 203 lbs.  He's got a booming right handed shot and really likes to throw his weight around when the moment is right.  He's a likable guy and should fit in very nicely with his new teammates.

Now to Brett Mulcahy.  Here are his career BCHL numbers:

2013 - 2014 SeasonVernon Vipers00000.0000000
2013 - 2014 SeasonSurrey Eagles362312351.00901123
2012 - 2013 SeasonSurrey Eagles521724410.80413041
2011 - 2012 SeasonSurrey Eagles57811190.30212137
2010 - 2011 SeasonWestside Warriors3447110.30000014
2009 - 2010 SeasonWestside Warriors30000.0000000
From everyone I've talked to, this is a prototypical two way player and as you can see from his season numbers he has an ability to put the puck in the net as well.  A natural leader who captained the Surrey Eagles to the WCC victory and a very solid performance at the RBC, this is the type of player who will bring the intangibles required to win championships.

My Thoughts

1) Dylan Chanter - Having seen him play all last season in Merritt, I know what this young man is capable of.  He's a right handed shot with a cannon of a slap shot.  He's smart in his own zone and doesn't shy away from the physical part.  With out a doubt it was tough to part with Jason Bird, a great guy in his own right and a player who had offensive gifts, but if you can get a guy who is big, mean, physical, can chip in offensively and is a local product (from Armstrong) its a deal that no one will be second guessing.

2) Brett Mulcahy - I haven't seen Brett play much in my time in the league, but what I've heard through the grape vine is that he is a consummate leader.  Becoming the Eagles captain at 19, leading them through the playoffs and being a win away from being in the RBC Cup Final.  At this point in the season, teams have to be very careful who they acquire as they don't want to disrupt or ruin a dressing room.  Thats where this deal could really benefit the Vipers, Mulcahy is a veteran guy, from Kelowna who could centre the top line or the third line if need be.  

3) Whats Next? - Jason Williamson still has one card to deal with and two days to use it.  Are the Vipers done wheeling and dealing?  Possibly.  With these additions, the Vernon Vipers are very well rounded and full of depth.  Any trade now, I'd expect to be a depth move and an insurance move in case of injury.  

Both Chanter and Mulcahy will be in the lineup for the Vernon Vipers when they host their division rival the Penticton Vees.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Vipers Earn Weekend Split With 3-2 Win Over Clippers

The Vernon Vipers played a very good game for 50 minutes of Saturday nights matchup.  They were on their heels for about 10 minutes and were able to hold off the Nanaimo Clippers to skate away with a 3-2 win.  The Vipers were much better defensively in this outing a limited the Clippers to lots of shots from the perimeter.  The powerplay scored, Austin Smith was great and the team really banded together when the Clippers started to chip into the lead.

There was nothing flashy about the performance tonight, but a key was to outwork the Clippers and the hardwork led to two powerplays in the first period and they would convert on one.  During the broadcast I thought it was a fortunate missed pass that ended up on the stick of Josh Bryan, but on further review I believe it was intentional.  In any case, the powerplay scored for the first time in two games and it had to feel good for Josh Bryan to score against his former club.  Austin Smith had to make a few nice saves and the Snakes would enter the break up by a goal.

Momentum would start to sway more in the Vipers favour in the second as a nice shift from the Dancs, McNicholas and Hannoun line would get a great chance and follow it up with a goal as Dancs found himself some open space and snapped it past Tanner Kovacs.  Less than three minutes later, the Vipers caught the Clippers running around in their own end and some quick passing ended with a rocket of a one timer off the stick of Michael Statchuk and the Vipers had a comfortable 3-0 lead after 2 periods.

The Clippers for their part didn't give up or pack it in as they pushed to get back in the game.  They are a dangerous club while shorthanded and it showed as Brendan Taylor scored a nice goal to make the game 3-1.  Nanaimo would then get a few powerplays and convert on one as Bo Brauer poked home a loose puck in the blue paint to make it 3-2 with plenty of time on the clock.  That was as close as Nanaimo would get as Austin Smith and the Vipers shut the door not allowing much in the final few minutes to get their 21st win of the season.

My 3 Key Thoughts

1) - Better Effort - Its amazing how much 24 hours and a short memory can serve a team well.  The Vipers came out with a better effort from start to finish, didn't get frustrated when calls didn't go their way and banded together to shut down a very tough Clipper squad.  The key to tonight was to outwork the Clippers and I thought for most of the game they did that.  All 4 lines and 6 defensemen were tidy in their own end and kept most of the Clipper offense to the outside.

2) - Defense Chipping In - Jared Wilson was the Vipers player of the month for December with 9 points in 8 games.  The defense continued to chip in on Friday night with Josh Bryan and Michael Statchuk getting markers.  For Statchuk it was especially satisfying as he has played forward and defense whenever necessary and has become a real utility player for the coaching staff.  This was his second official goal in the BCHL, but his first was an empty netter.  This one was a rocket and I know the family back home in Wadena Saskatchewan, despite being cold, cheered loud and proud.

3) - Home Cooking - For the second time this season Kal Tire Place has had more than 2000 fans in the building.  The players really seem to respond to it and continue to play well at home.  Its extremely important for this team to play well at home because they know in May they will be playing at least three games here and want it to be as difficult for the opposition as possible.

The Vipers are now off until a big game against the Vees on Friday night at Kal Tire Place.  Its also BCHL 5 Hole For Food Challenge.  Bring non perishables for donation for the Vernon food bank.  Its an internet only broadcast and I will have the call for you starting at 6:45.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Game 39 Preview - Clippers @ Vipers

In the game of hockey, it usually serves you well if you have a short memory.  For the Vernon Vipers, last night is something they'll look to learn from, but put out of their memory.  The Snakes will look to regroup and refocus against a very tough Nanaimo Clipper team.  One thing Vipers fans know is that Mike Vandekamp led teams are physical and very good defensively.  They have great goaltending that the Vipers witnessed first hand back in October as Jayson Argue shut out Vernon by a score of 3-0.  The Vipers will look to hand out redemption tonight at Kal Tire Place.

Here's the breakdown:

Season Series - October 29 - Nanaimo 3 Vipers 0 - Frank Crane Arena

Vernon Vipers 

Record - 20-11-3-4 - 2nd in the Interior Division

Home Record - 10-3-3-3        Away Record - 10-8-0-1

Leaders - Goals - Michael McNicholas (19)
             - Assists - Michael McNicholas (33)
             - Points - Michael McNicholas (52)

Goaltending - Austin Smith - 21 GP - 9-6-3-2, 2.78 GAA, .911Sv%
                   - Danny Todosychuk - 17 GP - 10-4-0-1, 3.01 GAA, .900Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 15th in the league - 24 for 149 - 16.11%
                       - Penalty Kill - 9th in the league - 128 of 157 - 81.53%

Nanaimo Clippers 

Record - 20-18-0-1 - 3rd in the Island Division

Home Record - 9-9-0-0          Away Record - 11-9-0-1

Leaders - Goals - Sheldon Rempal/Devin Brosseau (15)
             - Assists - Brendan Taylor (24)
             - Points - Brendan Taylor (36)

Goaltending - Jayson Argue - 31 GP - 17-12-0-1, 2.54 GAA, .926Sv%
                   - Tanner Kovacs - 5 GP - 2-3-0-0, 2.22 GAA, .926Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 7th in the league - 33 for 172 - 19.19%
                       - Penalty Kill - 8th in the league - 146 of 179 - 81.56%

The Vipers have lost two in a row and look to get back in the win column tonight against the Clippers.  If you can't make it to the rink, all the action is on 107.5 KissFM starting at 6:45.

Vipers Smoked Out By Smokies 4-1.

It wasn't the start to 2014 that the Vernon Vipers were looking for as they took on the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday Night.  Overall it was a strange game to watch as both teams opened things up offensively with numerous odd man rushes at either end.  In the end special teams and costly turnovers were the difference as the Smoke Eaters ended their 13 game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Snakes.

The first was a wide open period with both teams attempting to stretch out the others defense.  Many times it was successful and both Austin Smith and Adam Todd had to be very alert and sharp.  I thought the Vipers had their legs early and shook off the break and the long road trip and were probably happy with the scoreless first period.

Vernon opened the scoring in the second as Demico Hannoun had the puck on a string through the high slot and snapped a wicked wrist shot past Adam Todd.  The lead was short lived as a Trail powerplay would convert off the stick of Bryan Basilico who knocked home a rebound in the slot.  Both teams would then exchange chances and I thought that they were both very loose with the puck in their own end and through the neutral zone.  The Vipers were actually lucky to be tied by the time the period ended as the Smokies hit two goal posts in the final few minutes off odd man rushes.

It seemed like the third period was a battle of attrition as both teams worked hard to get the go ahead goal.  Unfortunately for Vernon, the Smokies had a little bit more in the tank in the end and on a powerplay Travis Stephens would find some room off a nice entry into the zone and get one past Smith to give Trail the lead.  The wheels fell off defensively for the Snakes as an uncharacteristically awful turnover at their own blue line allowed Riley Brandt to get in alone and increase the lead to 2 just minutes after getting the lead.  An empty netter from Stephens would seal it as the Vipers just couldn't get a lot mustered in the final few minutes and the game would end 4-1.

My 3 Key Thoughts

1) Burying Chances - The Vipers weren't without their chances to score in this game.  They had 32 shots and many of those were quality chances and has been the case at times this year, it seemed frustration started to sneak in when the bounces weren't going their way.  The turning point was Michael McNicholas hitting the cross bar with the game tied in the 3rd.  Trail came back to get the lead and wouldn't relinquish it.

2) Penalty Trouble - After the 6 minor penalties the Vipers took that now makes 14 in two games.  Thats too many!  Jason Williamson said in the post game show that he doesn't mind the good, hardworking penalties, but a few high sticking and tripping calls snuck in there and proved costly.  This is not a team that has had to deal with penalty trouble, so it'll be interesting to see if they can start to walk the thin line between good aggressive play and undisciplined play.

3) Smokies End Streak - It took the 14th game for the Trail Smoke Eaters to end the longest losing streak of the season.  In fairness to Trail, that streak could have and should have ended in previous games, but this team is continuing to learn and grow with players getting chances they normally wouldn't get.  Adam Todd seems to be rounding back into game shape after missing two months and with a little bit of confidence this Trail club will look to play spoiler down the stretch drive to the post season.

For the Vipers they get a quick turnaround as they end the weekend with a Saturday Night matchup against Mike Vandekamp and the Nanaimo Clippers.  The Vipers will look to deal a little retribution for a shut out loss they took back in October.  You can catch all the action on 107.5 KissFM starting at 6:45 with the pregame show and all the play by play action starting at 7 from Kal Tire Place.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Game 38 Preview - Vipers @ Smokies

The Vernon Vipers didn't end 2013 the way they wanted to, but they have a chance to get back on track Friday night as they face the Trail Smoke Eaters for the 5th time.  The Vipers have been off since December 21st and welcomed the players back well rested, recuperated and ready to make the run to the RBC.  The Smoke Eaters have scuffled, but gave the West Kelowna Warriors all they could handle on the 30th of December.  It took two late goals in regulation and the OT marker for West K to win it and the Smokies continue to play hard and tinker with their lineup

Here's how the teams stack up:

Season Series - October 15 - Vipers 6 Trail 3 - Kal Tire Place
                      - November 22 - Vipers 4 Trail 1 - Cominco Arena
                      - December 1 - Vipers 6 Trail 3 - Kal Tire Place
                      - December 13 - Vipers 6 Trail 3 - Kal Tire Place

Vernon Vipers

Record - 20-10-3-4 - 2nd in the Interior Division

Home Record - 10-3-3-3            Away Record - 10-7-0-1

Leaders - Goals - Michael McNicholas (19)
             - Assists - Michael McNicholas (32)
             - Points - Michael McNicholas (51)

Goaltending - Austin Smith - 20 GP - 9-5-3-2, 2.77 GAA, .911Sv%
                   - Danny Todosychuk - 17 GP - 10-4-0-1, 3.01 GAA, .900Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 14th in the league - 24 for 145 - 16.55%
                       - Penalty Kill - 7th in the league - 124 of 151 - 82.12%

Trail Smoke Eaters

Record - 7-28-2-2 - 6th in the Interior Division

Homer Record - 4-14-2-1              Away Record - 3-14-0-0

Leaders - Goals - Travis Stephens (11)
             - Assists - Braden Pears (20)
             - Points - Travis Stephens (27)

Goaltending - Dustin Nikkel - 21 GP - 4-15-2-0, 4.04 GAA, .889Sv%
                   - Adam Todd - 11 GP - 1-7-0-2, 4.84 GAA, .872Sv%

Special Teams - Powerplay - 12th in the league - 27 for 158 - 17.09%
                       - Penalty Kill - 14th in the league - 125 of 158 - 79.11%

All the action from the Cominco Arena starts at 7:15 for Village Green Hotel Vipers Hockey on 107.5 KissFM.