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Tough Night In Vernon

I suppose they were due for a clunker. Much like Vernon was due for a complete hockey game.

One day after a stirring victory over the Coquitlam Express, the Chilliwack Chiefs made it look like Opposite Day in Vernon Saturday, losing 5-1 in a game that was never close.

The Vipers had entered Saturday’s game entrenched in a six game losing streak. They had been struggling to score, puzzling their fans, as the Vipers boast as much talent in the BCHL as anybody. It all came out Saturday at Wesbild Centre.

Here’s what I saw:

– No coaching staff in the world is ever going to cite ‘bus legs’ as an issue, but the Chiefs certainly had a case of it in the first period, putting forth one of the weaker efforts of the season in the first twenty minutes. Too many individual battles were lost in this one, and it really set the tone. Credit the Vipers for playing like the desperate hockey team I expected to see going into this one.

Pearce Eviston’s powerplay goal got the Vipers on the board early on. Considering he was between the faceoff circles when he let the glove-high wrist shot go, he was given far too much time by the Chilliwack penalty killers. That’s purely an effort thing, and it will be addressed during the week.

Much of the penalty killing duty in this game was drawn by Luke Esposito, Austin Plevy and Josh Hansen. They wore down as the game went on because of that. You could really see how they missed the services of Ryan Donohoe, and Tanner Cochrane. Donohoe missed his third consecutive game with a shoulder problem, while a bruised kidney for Cochrane has him in a day to day situation.

The Vipers’ Logan Mick made the play of the game, and the true turning point. After Shea Laurent had tied the game at one in the second period, it appeared that the Chiefs would take the game to the final frame still up for grabs despite the spotty effort. With just over a minute left in the second, Mick outhustled Kiefer McNaughton in the right corner of the Chilliwack zone, and fed a centering pass to Pearce Eviston. Eviston beat Gillam for the late 2-1 lead, which took the wind out of the Chiefs’ sails.

– Vernon would pile it on in the third period with three more. Adam Tambellini came to life with a goal and two assists in this game. Vipers captain Brett Corkey finished with two points as well, and was a steady force out there. It was a game the Vipers needed in every conceivable way. Credit to them for a good effort.

Two games left in this long road swing, with the Smoke Eaters and Vees up next.

– With the loss, and Spruce Kings overtime victory over West Kelowna, the Chiefs now find themselves sitting in second place in the mainland division.

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