The Vernon Vipers have gone 20 days between games and eagerly await the postseason that gets under way tonight (Friday) at Kal Tire Place. After the smoke cleared in the first round of the playoffs, the Vipers will square off in the best of 7 series with the Trail Smoke Eaters. The schedule is as follows:
Friday March 17 @ KTP – 7pm
Saturday March 1 @ KTP – 7pm
Monday March 20 @ Cominco – 7pm
Tuesday March 21 @ Cominco – 7pm
Thursday March 23 @ KTP – 7pm *if necessary
Friday March 24 @ Cominco – 7:30pm *if necessary
Sunday March 26 @ KTP – 6pm *if necessary
These two teams duked it out 7 times in the regular season with the Vipers victorious 5 times. The adage is that the playoffs is a whole different season and you can throw out the regular season numbers, the Vipers will hope that their success in the regular season can translate into post season success.
The Snakes outscored the Smokies 27 to 14 which averages out to 3.85 GF per game and 2 GA per game. The Vipers went 3-1 in the 4 games played at KTP and that’s where the 6 time national champions flexed their offensive muscles. They outscored the visitors 21-8 in the games played at the friendly confines. Games at Cominco were tightly contested throughout with both teams playing great defensive hockey while getting outstanding goaltending.
The Viper top line of Stapley, Lambert and Jandric weren’t in on the offense in every game, but the games they had points, the flood gates opened including a 5 point night from Brett Stapley on the final day of the regular season. Trail product and Viper Captain Riley Brandt saved his best offensive efforts for his home town team as he registered 4 goals and 2 assists.
In goal, the Vipers had 3 starts apiece from Darion Hanson and Ty Taylor with the former sporting a 3-0 record and the latter a 2-1 record.
The Trail Smoke Eaters come in on a bit of a roll after dispatching the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in 5 games. The Smokies found their offensive game and outscored the Backs 26-17 and were perfect at home going 4-0. 18 year old, RPI commit, Linden Marshall was in goal for all 5 games in his first foray into the post season. He also holds both Trail wins over the Vipers stopping a combined 84 shots and just giving up 4 goals.
If one were to look at playoff experience, the Vipers may have the edge, with a good chunk of the Trail roster making their playoff debuts. However, with the way the bye went, most Trail players now have the same number of playoff games played heading into this round.