I was at tonight's Vipers-Warriors game as Vernon defeated West Kelowna 3-2 in front of 2,078 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Andrew Shortridge
West Kelowna: Matthew Greenfield
1st Period: Vernon would get some good pressure and a few good looks at the net early. Just 1:12 into the opening frame Jimmy Lambert in close couldn't beat Matthew Greenfield who come up with a big pad save. Off the following faceoff, Mitchell Oliver's point shot was redirected in front was stopped by Greenfield. The Vipers kept pressing, had some good pressure early to start the game. Greenfield had to be alert with the Vipers pressing on a goal mouth scramble couldn't put the puck home. Greenfield stayed with the play, was able to cover up the loose puck getting a stoppage in play, The Warriors come back a minute later. Kylar Hope one on one forced Andrew Shortridge into making a good save from in close. The Vipers would open the scoring off a turnover inside the WK blueline, Riley Brandt with a low snap shot beat Matthew Greenfield giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 4:55 Joe Sacco collected the lone helper. On the following shift the Warriors would get the games first powerplay. But just 2:12 later Nicholas Rutigliano with a long shot from just inside the Viper blueline beat Shortridge on a goal the Vipers netminder would like to have back, tying the game 1-1 at 7:07 Brett Mennear with the assist. Ben Butcher & Kylar Hope would collide just inside the Warriors blueline, Hope would go down and stay down for several minutes, after being looked at by the team trainer. Hope looked a little dazed-maybe got the wind knocked out of him was slow getting to the bench, but stayed in the game. Just before the halfway mark Viper captain Colton McCarthy with a great opportunity from in close couldn't beat Matthew Greenfield who made a big pad save from in close. Both teams were fairly even in the first half with the Vipers getting the better of the chances. Shortly after the halfway mark Jagger Williamson would get stoned from in tight on a play that I don't think Greenfield saw but somehow made the save with traffic in front. Vernon would then get their first powerplay, the Vipers would move the puck around well but had troubles getting pucks to the net as WK would kill off the penalty. The Warriors would get their game going late, slowly started to come on and finish the period with a strong forecheck. West Kelowna with lots of pressure in the final three to four minutes carried the balance in play, took it too the Vipers for the remainder of the period. Andrew Shortridge was forced into making a few key saves to finish the 1st period. It was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes of play. The Vipers with a good start, a few real good quality chances off the opening faceoff were ready to play tonight. Vernon opened the scoring and held their own vs the Warriors for most of the period. I thought both teams were fairly even but the Vipers had the better scoring chances. West Kelowna got some big saves from Matthew Greenfield didn't get a lot of great scoring chances, had some shots-looks at the net from in close stepped up their play late to finish the period. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 9-8.
2nd Period: Off the opening faceoff West Kelowna with a strong start, got the forecheck going before Quin Foreman's quick shot from the circle forced Vipers starting goaltender Andrew Shortridge into making a tough save inside the opening minute. The Warriors buzzing inside the Vipers blueline before Ben Butcher setup Odeen Tufto on a Viper two on one attack, Tufto would get robbed by Warriors starting goaltender Matthew Greenfield a minute into the middle frame, come up with a huge game saver keeping this game tied 1-1. The Warriors seemed to have a bit of an edge over Vernon to start the period as West Kelowna had the early edge in play. Ryan Pereverzoff would get a parcial breakaway but missed the net on a missed opportunity. The Vipers back on their heels for a bit couldn't seem to contain or slow down WK. About seven minutes in the Vipers would get another great opportunity. Odeen Tufto would get stopped by Greenfield before Christian Cakebread would get robbed at the side of the net, Greenfield with two big saves keeping this game tied. A few minutes later Jimmy Lambert setup Ben Butcher on a Viper odd man rush but Butcher couldn't beat Matthew Greenfield who once again come up with a huge save. The Vipers who were outplayed up until now, were slowly coming on, getting some grade a scoring chances. Christian Cakebread would leave the ice, make his way to the Viper dressing room was seen standing in the hallway with no helmet on, getting attended too by the team trainer, would miss a few shifts but stayed in the game. Just past the midway mark Vernon would get their second man advantage of the night and looked to capitalize. With a scramble in front of the net, the Vipers were able to bang home the loose puck, looked to jump ahead 2-1 but the goal was waived off immediatley. The refferees and linesmen then gathered in front of the penalty box to talk about the play-goal. The goal was waived off with no official explanation. Towards the end of the PP the Vipers with a huge fight for the loose puck, with another goal mouth scramble somehow couldn't get the puck up and over Matthew Greenfield who was down and out, was able to cover the puck for the stoppage in play. The Warriors would kill off the penalty. The next five minutes or more would be nothing but penalties as both teams would exchange penalties or get short little powerplays. West Kelowna would get a late powerplay but unable to capitalize before Jagger Williamson would give Vernon the lead just after the minor expired. Williamson down the right wing on an odd man rush, decided to keep and fire, went fivehole beating Matthew Greenfield giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 17:24 Carter Stephenson and Bo Pellah with the assists. WK would finish with a few hard working shifts come on strong to finish the 2nd period. West Kelowna would get a late powerplay that would be carried over into the 3rd. Vernon was up 2-1 after 40 minutes of play. The Warriors with a good strong start, had some good chances early with lots of pressure carried the better of the play for a good five to six minutes but it was Vernon who had the better scoring chances. Matthew Greenfield was keeping his team in the game, making some huge game savers. The Vipers rallied and played better in the second half that was filled with penalties. A lot of four on four action. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 11-10.
3rd Period: West Kelowna started the final frame with the man advantage that was carried over from the end of the 2nd period. Early into the powerplay, Jonathan Desbiens was robbed at the side of the net, after Andrew Shortridge come across the crease to stone Desbiens at the side of the net. WK with a ton of pressure, were moving the puck around before Quin Foreman with a quick shot from the high slot beat Shortridge but hit the crossbar on a close call. The Vipers would excape killed off the minor but just as the penalty expired West Kelowna headed back to the powerplay. The Warriors with back to back opportunities with the man advantage. Vernon with a strong penalty kill, before the Warriors would take a penalty just before their powerplay expired. Vernon would get a very shortened PP before being called with too many men on the ice as both teams went to four on four. Four on four Kylar Hope broke loose before getting a quick shot off from the high slot missed the net, on a great opportunity. At the halfway mark Riley Brandt would break in for the breakaway, was hauled down still managed to get his shot off, but missed the net forced West Kelowna into taking a tripping penalty, giving the Vipers a powerplay, but Vernon struggled as West Kelowna would kill off the minor. Shortly after Jimmy Lambert in front was stoned by Matthew Greenfield who come across the blue paint to make a huge pad save keeping this a one goal game. A few minutes later West Kelowna would get a shot with the man advantage. The Warriors with a few good looks down low couldn't beat Andrew Shortridge as the Viper PK was good, killed off the penalty. Vernon would then get a late powerplay and capitalize. Liam Finlay with a burst of speed scored a highlight reel goal, weaving in and out before going upstairs sending Kal Tire Place into a frenzy, giving Vernon a 3-1 lead at 15:23 Odeen Tufto & Bo Pellah picked up the assists. On the following shift the Warriors responded with a quick turn around, Nicholas Rutigliano ripped a quick shot from the blueline got through traffic before beating Shortridge but not the post as West Kelowna was that close to making this a one goal game. The Warriors kept coming and poured on the pressure late, Andrew Shortridge had to come up with a few big saves in the final minutes before Warriors captain Kyle Marino fed Rylan Yaremko who went to the net, beat Shortridge high cutting the Viper lead to 3-2 at 18:10 Marino with the lone helper. Rylan Ferster and the Warriors would call a late timeout before getting Matthew Greenfield to the bench for the extra attacker with 1:20 remaining. WK with a ton of pressure in the offensive zone, the Warriors moving the puck around, forced Andrew Shortridge once again into making some key saves late as the Vipers were just barley hanging on. Vernon back on their heels, looked to panic in the final minute had two good chances to get the puck out but couldn't. The Vipers would eventually clear the zone before one final push from the West Kelowna Warriors. The Warriors would run out of time as the Vipers would hang on for the victory. Andrew Shortridge was pushed and almost fell over at the buzzer wich forced a minor scrum before some pushing and shoving occurred. Everyone then got involved as now some punches were thrown. Shortridge was in the face of Kylar Hope wanting to drop the gloves with a linesmen between the two, two different scrums were also going on at this point. Emotions and tempers heated up at the final buzzer. Brett Mennear was in the face of several Viper players, lots of punches thrown before the two teams were separated. The Vipers bench fled onto the ice, chirping with the West Kelowna players leaving the ice. A wild finish to end the hockey game. Both teams had some good chances as both goaltenders played well in the final frame. The Vipers were able to capitalize on a late powerplay to get a huge third goal before the Warriors made things very interesting with a late goal of their own. West Kelowna with a strong push to finish the game, had some good looks with all kinds of pressure couldn't beat Andrew Shortridge. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 20-10.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Brett Stapley I thought looked good-played very well in the limited amount of ice time he saw. The few shifts I noticed him, I thought he held his own and played very well.
Jagger Williamson (1 goal) Played well in the win tonight. Had a a few looks at the net, was skating hard all night.
Odeen Tufto (1 assist) & Jimmy Lambert were the Vipers best unit tonight. This line seemed to have a new winger join every other shift. I thought Lambert and Tufto had lots of chemistry, were really clicking well tonight, made things happen. Tufto has really picked up his play the last month or so and been racking up the points. Lambert had a strong game, was skating-working hard, going to the net, created and generated lots of good opportunities.
Ben Butcher Has really come along way since arriving in Vernon after a trade with the Langley Rivermen. Butcher had a strong night, played his best game of the season. What an improvement from his first few games with the Vipers. Really used his size tonight, was going to the net, was skating hard, creating and generating chances all night.
Andrew Shortridge (39 saves) Returned to the Viper lineup after missing the past three games with an injury. Shortridge gave up a soft goal on Nicholas Rutigliano (Warriors first goal) looked to be a little slow-off on reacting time. Shortridge looked to be a little slow making the saves, especially in the 1st period. But as the game went on I thought he seemed to improve and get better. Shortridge didn't have to stand on his head but did make some big saves in the 2nd and 3rd periods with the Warriors pressing. The 20 yr old goaltender was solid down the stretch drive, made some key saves in the final few minutes to preserve the victory.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
I thought this was one of the Vipers more complete games-efforts in several months. Other then a few mental lapses-mistakes I really liked Vernon's game tonight. After a 5-2 loss in West Kelowna last week, the Vipers responded with a much better performance/effort this evening. I thought the Vipers were going to the net lots, creating and generating chances all night, forced Matthew Greenfield into making some huge game savers. I thought the Vipers had lots of chemistry going, had lots of odd man rushes. Vernon played as a team tonight, worked hard, were skating, competed, played well at both ends of the rink and held their own vs a very good West Kelowna team. The Vipers didn't quit tonight, they stayed with the Warriors for most of the night. Give the Vipers full credit for shutting down the Warriors top players. I thought Vernon did a great job at shutting down Jonathan Desbiens & Liam Blackburn. The Vipers really limited the Warriors scoring chances through out the game. This was the Vipers first win of the season over West Kelowna are now 1-3 vs the Warriors. Vernon had some troubles at times with the Warriors forecheck, especially late in the 1st, early to start the 2nd and then to finish the game but overall held their own. That's going to happen now and again when you have a younger team facing a veteran team like WK. Overall the Vipers held their own in a hard fought, very entertaining game. Where has this team been all season? If the Vipers played like this all season, where would they be in the standings? This team is very frustrating and hard to watch at times. You don't know what Viper team/players are going to come to play. Lets hope the Vipers can build off of these two big wins over West Kelowna and Salmon Arm and get some confidence going to finish the season. The Vipers are now 2-13 vs Penticton, West Kelowna and Salmon Arm this year. The Vipers have now won back to back games for the first time since mid November. Vernon won back to back games November 14th in Wenatchee and then November 18th over Merritt. This was just the Vipers second win at home in their last seven games. With the win the Vipers move two points up on Trail for the fourth and final playoff spot. The Vipers are in Trail tomorrow night for a big game with the Smoke Eaters. Former Vipers Chad Murray and Bryce Kakoske were at tonight's game.
Top Player's: (West Kelowna)
Rylan Yaremko (1 goal) Was solid on the backend, scored a nice goal late to get the Warriors to within a goal.
Quin Foreman Had a heck of a game for West Kelowna in the loss, hit the crossbar in the 3rd on the PP was all over the rink tonight. I thought was one of the Warriors more stand out forwards. Involved in the play a lot, created and generated chances, gave the Vipers troubles.
Brett Mennear (1 assist) Was in the face of the Vipers all game, did his best at trying to get under the skin of the Vipers through out the contest. Played a chippy in your face style of game, stirred things up often.
Kylar Hope I thought was one of West Kelowna's if not the Warriors most dangerous player. Hope who collided with Ben Butcher in the 1st period, stayed in the game, played very well. Was all over the Vipers in the offensive zone, good with and without the puck. Hard to contain all night.
Nicholas Rutigliano (1 goal) Had a strong night on the WK defence, opened the scoring for the Warriors. Jumped up into the play often, was good at both ends of the rink.
Matthew Greenfield (29 saves) Picked up the win in the Warriors 5-2 win last weekend over Vernon, had a stand out game between the pipes tonight. Greenfield made some huge saves through out the game or this could have easily been a 6/7-2 final. The veteran goaltender made some huge game savers keeping his team in the game, at the time of the saves or this game could have easily got away from the Warriors. A bigger netminder, plays his position well, covers a lot of the net, quick on his feet.
Game Thought's: (West Kelowna)
What a difference eleven days makes. Last week the Warriors beat the Vipers 5-2 at Royal Le Page Place in a game where West Kelowna carried the play and outplayed Vernon in two of the three periods coming away with the win. Tonight was a different story. I thought the Warriors played hard, battled and competed but just didn't get the same amount of grade a scoring chances, like the Vipers. I also didn't think the Warriors big guns didn't stand out. I never really noticed Liam Blackburn, Jonathan Desbiens, Jake LeBrun or Kyle Marino. Overall this could have been anyones game, both teams were fairly evenly matched except I thought the Vipers had the much better scoring opportunities. The Warriors could have easily tied this game forcing overtime or won hitting the crossbar and post once each, then putting the Vipers back on their heels in the final few minutes, had several good looks, had some close chances late couldn't beat Andrew Shortridge. West Kelowna played a fairly chippy game, got away with lots of little things behind the play. Overall this was a very exciting-entertaining game to watch. A wild finish at the buzzer after some pushing and shoving, two scrums broke loose, in wich things could have got ugly but the referees/linesmen did a good job at containing things. A hard fought game by both teams who will play each other three straight games starting with a home and home series on February 16th. Since the 2010-11 regular season the Warriors have just three wins in their last twenty games at Kal Tire Place (February 9th 2013, September 27th 2014 & October 23rd 2015). I was surprised to see just one West Kelowna fan at tonight's game. Atleast that's all I saw.
Energy Player of the Game:
1st Star: Jagger Williamson (1 goal)
2nd Star: Andrew Shortridge (39 saves)
3rd Star: Nicholas Rutigliano (1 goal)
BCHL Game Summary,
BCHL Game Report,
BCHL Official Stats,
Kyle Andreson's West Kelowna Warriors Blog,