I was at tonight's Vipers-Warriors game as West Kelowna defeated Vernon 4-1 in front of 865 fans at Royal Le Page Place.
Vernon: Andrew Shortridge
West Kelowna: Keelan Williams
1st Period: The Warriors got off to a quick start, had the Vipers hemmed in their own end for close to two minutes off the opening faceoff. West Kelowna with a good solid forecheck were moving the puck around, had a ton of pressure but very few shots-opportunities. Not a whole lot of action early as the Warriors were out-shooting Vernon 2-1 five minutes into the opening frame. WK would get the games first scoring opportunity after Nicholas Rutigliano's point shot was redirected in front forcing Andrew Shortridge to make a tough save in front just over five minutes into the 1st, Shots were even at three each before the Warriors pulled away and ending up dominating the period. Kylar Hope blew by Griffin James before going in alone for the breakaway was stopped by Shortridge before going crashing into the open net. A few minutes later veteran forward Liam Blackburn with a quick shot from the slot was stopped by the knob of Andrew Shortridge's goal stick. The Warriors with all kinds of pressure were buzzing in the Viper zone, looked like they were on the powerplay. Tanner Campbell come very close to opening the scoring beat Shortridge but rang his shot off the crossbar. Just past the halfway mark West Kelowna was now out-shooting the Vipers 9-3. Vernon back on their heels with very little offensive zone attack, would finally get three or four hard working shifts that generated a little pressure in the second half. The Vipers who didnt generate much for offence would get just two shots in the final fourteen minutes. WK would get a late powerplay but a decent penalty kill by the Vipers would kill off the minor. It was 0-0 after 20 minutes of play. The Warriors carried the majority of the play and dominated the Vipers most of the entire opening frame. West Kelowna with some great scoring chances, couldnt beat Andrew Shortridge. The Warriors with a ton of pressure, played most of the period in the Vipers end. Vernon who were back on their heels, were hemmed inside their own end most of the period. Other then a few shifts here and there, the Vipers didnt generate any kind of offensive threat. The Vipers with just two shots in the final fourteen minutes. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 13-5.
2nd Period: Joe Sacco would get the Vipers their first good look at the net and first opportunity of the game just less then two minutes into the middle frame. Sacco with a quick shot from just inside the circle forced Warriors starting goaltender Keelan Williams to make a quick glove save. About a minute and a half later WK would capitalize on a lucky bounce and open the scoring. A Viper defender tried clearing the puck from the slot, the puck bounced over his stick before Quin Foreman would beat Vipers starting goaltender Andrew Shortridge giving West Kelowna a 1-0 lead at 3:44 Scott Allan with the assist. Just a few minutes later Brett Mennear would break loose for the breakaway was stoned by Shortridge before stopping Reed Gunville on the second opportunity on two good chances for the Warriors. A few shifts later Liam Blackburn on a two on one rush, kept and shot was stopped by the Viper goaltender who was doing his best at keeping Vernon in the hockey game. The Warriors would get their first PP of the night, moving the puck around West Kelowna with a good powerplay unit had some good looks at the net, couldnt solve Andrew Shortridge who come up with a few good saves before the Vipers killed off the minor. Just a minute after the penalty expired veteran forward Jonathan Desbiens would a rocket of a shot went roof top shelf past Shortridge giving West Kelowna a 2-0 lead at 11:51 Kylar Hope with the helper. A few minutes later WK would head back to the man advantage, and once again moving the puck around the Warriors with great pressure were getting some great looks, had some good opportunities but again Andrew Shortridge was solid coming up with some big saves. The Vernon netminder made a huge glove save off the right wing before robbing Tanner Campbell with a huge glove save from in close keeping this a 2-0 score. The Vipers would get some strong goaltending and kill off the penalty. Late in the period Odeen Tufto setup Jimmy Lambert on a two on one down low, but Lambert couldnt beat Keelan Williams who come across the crease to make a huge save off the Viper rookie keeping his shutout in tack. On the same shift, back come West Kelowna Liam Blackburn would break loose for the breakaway but get stopped by Shortridge. WK would get their third PP of the frame late, and again get some solid opportunities. Liam Blackburn and Nicholas Rutigliano with good chances in front couldnt beat Andrew Shortridge. The Warriors would head into the 3rd with a second remaining on the man advantage. West Kelowna was up 2-0 after 40 minutes of play. For a second straight period, the Warriors dominated the play as Vernon was outplayed most of the frame. WK with three powerplays, had some great chances but couldnt capitalize. The Warriors with several good opportunities would only get two past Andrew Shortridge who kept the Vipers in the game. The Vipers with just two chances failed again to generate any kind of offence, played most of the period on the penalty kill or in their own end. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 21-10.
3rd Period: The Vipers would get their first powerplay of the night, just 1:35 into the final frame. But Vernon struggled getting through the neutral zone, as West Kelowna with a strong forecheck, forced the Vipers into icing the puck once were very aggressive on the penalty kill. Vernon with not a single shot couldnt capitalize as WK killed off the minor. Less then a minute later Quin Foreman with his second of the night at the side of the net, gave West Kelowna a 3-0 lead at 4:09 Liam Blackburn collected the helper. But less then two minutes later the Vipers would jump back on the PP and end up breaking Keelan Williams shutout bid. Callum Volpe with the long stretch pass spotted a wide open Riley Brandt who broke free into the Warriors zone, was untouched ripped a rocket of a shot shortside cutting the West Kelowna lead to 3-1 at 6:59 Volpe with the lone assist. Shortly after Odeen Tufto come very close to getting Vernon's second goal of the night, beat Williams but rang his shot off the post. The Vipers would get a few decent shifts but nothing to write home about before the Warriors defence completely shutdown the Vernon attack. The Vipers now down three goals couldnt get through the neutral zone as WK played a solid shutdown period. The Warriors would put the game away after Jonathan Desbiens second of the night, gave West Kelowna a 4-1 lead at 12:10 Kylar Hope & Bryan Nelson picked up the assists. From here on in WK took their foot off the gas, slowed the game down to a crawl and basically didnt allow the Vipers inside the blueline. The Warriors didnt generate much for offence in the second half, were just winding time off the clock. The Vipers with not alot of fight left, couldnt get anything going as West Kelowna would come away with the 4-1 victory. The Warriors third goal early into the period basically put the game away, before the Vipers would get on the scoreboard but it was too little too late. West Kelowna would add an insurance goal before playing very well defensively in the 3rd to shutdown the Vipers. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 11-9.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Steven Jandric I thought played one of his better games in a while. Jandric who hasnt done much of anything lately come to play tonight and played hard. I thought was one of the hardest working Vipers tonight.
Andrew Shortridge (41 saves) So far is the Vipers MVP, the twenty year old goaltender made 41 saves was the Vipers best penalty killer tonight, making some big stops or this could have been a much different score. Shortridge made some big saves through out the night, kept his team in the game and gave them a chance to win. Was solid all night.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
Another tough but disapointing loss for the Vipers who once again were badly outplayed the entire game. The Warriors controlled the game from the drop of the puck and never looked back. The Vipers with maybe three scoring chances all night, arent going to win many hockey games when you dont get many opportunities and give up a ton of chances-shots. The Vipers were outworked most of the night, lost alot of puck battles. Vernon with very little pressure-offensive zone time, played most of the night in their own end or trying to get through the neutral zone. The Vipers have had troubles scoring and it showed again tonight. This team is very inconsistent and it showed again tonight. If it wasnt for Andrew Shortridge this game could have been alot worse. Ive said it before, and I will say it again... Where would the Vipers be without Andrew Shortridge? Near the bottom of the standings? This kid has basically carried this team on his back all season. Vernon is just two small, too young and dosnt have the skill or talent to compete against and play with the top teams in this league. This team works very hard, plays hard, but just dosnt have any top level-elite players to compete with/or against the other top teams in the league. This was a big divisional game as Vernon was three points back of West Kelowna in the standings, now falls five points back of the Warriors who have two games in hand.
Top Player's: (West Kelowna)
Rylan Yaremko played a solid game on the Warriors blueline. A big strong shutdown defenceman who played very well this evening.
Quin Foreman (2 goals) A big body forward who can move the puck, hard to defend against went hard to the net alot tonight, worked hard for his goals in front.
Kristian Blumenschein played very well on the backend.
Tanner Campbell isnt one of the biggest kids out there, but plays big. Played with alot of jump, Quick on his feet, always on the move, has a quick shot and a quick release, always buzzing in and around the net.
Kylar Hope (2 assists) Has played well against the Vipers in the past, had a good game for West Kelowna tonight. Played with alot of jump and energy was going to the net, working hard, competed hard and earned his two helpers.
Jonathan Desbiens (2 goals) Is fun to watch, scored two pretty goals tonight, both top shelf on Andrew Shortridge. This kid is quick, has a quick shot-quick release. Good strong skater, thats hard to defend against.
Nicholas Rutigliano was another d-man that played very well, jumped up into the play on several occasions. Had atleast two good chances in close.
Liam Blackburn (1 assist) Is another veteran Warrior who is fun to watch, can make things happen in a hurry. Had several good looks at the net-great opportunitities. Smooth skater, soft hands, can shoot.
Game Thought's: (West Kelowna)
The Warriors improve to 2-0 vs Vernon this season have now won three straight over the Vipers at home going back to last season. West Kelowna dominated this game from the drop of the puck. The Warriors firing 45 shots at Andrew Shortridge had a ton of great scoring chances, could have easily won 7 or 8-1 tonight. The Warriors move the puck well, have a strong forecheck, get pucks to the net, have a very good powerplay, dont take alot of penalties, well atleast not tonight. WK has a veteran team, with some tallented forwards who can put the puck in the net. Rylan Ferster who always use to yell and scream from the bench at the referee's in past years, really tammed it down tonight. Was pretty calm behind the bench. West Kelowna dominated and outplayed the Vipers back in October in Vernon, look to have the Vipers number early this season. A very small but very lively crowd at times.
Energy Player of the Game:
Kylar Hope (2 assists)
1st Star: Quin Foreman (2 goals)
2nd Star: Liam Blackburn (1 assist)
3rd Star: Jonathan Desbiens (2 goals)
Kyle Anderson's West Kelowna Warriors Blog,
Graham Turnbull's Vernon Vipers Blog,