I was at today's Vipers-Warriors Anti-Bullying game as West Kelowna defeated Vernon 4-1 in front of 1,751 fans at Royal LePage Place.
Vernon: Andrew Shortridge
West Kelowna: Matthew Greenfield
1st Period: The Vipers with lots of jump off the opening puck drop, had good pressure off the opening faceoff. Just fifty seconds into the period Ben Butcher from behind the net setup former Penticton Vees forward Liam Finlay in the slot who was stopped by Matthew Greenfield who come up with a big pad save. Vernon working hard, had a strong forecheck going in the opening few minutes. West Kelowna needed four minutes to record their first shot of the game, Reed Gunville & Warriors captain Jared Marino on a two on one, Gunville decided to keep and shoot but was stopped by Andrew Shortridge on the Warriors first shot of the morning. This scoring chance seemed to give WK some life, as the Warriors responded with a few good hard shifts of their own, getting some good looks & good opportunities from in close over the next few shifts before the Vipers would open the scoring. Brett Stapley's shot would be stopped by Matthew Greenfield before Ben Butcher capitalized on the rebound down low, giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 7:40 Stapley & Mitchell Oliver collected the helpers. The Vipers kept coming, getting lots of pressure had lots of zone time, began stepping up the physical play. Just before the midway mark West Kelowna lead the rush on a two on one, former Victoria Grizzlies forward Garrett Forster setup Quin Foreman who couldn't beat Shortridge going to the net, on a nice save by the Viper netminder keeping this a one goal game,. Vernon was the better of the two teams in the first half. Just past the halfway mark the Warriors would get the games first powerplay. WK setup Jonathan Desbiens in the slot who just missed the net on a great chance from in close. The powerplay would last just nineteen seconds before Desbiens would get called for a minor, sending both teams to four on four. Four on four Brett Mennear tried splitting the Vernon defence, was able to get a quick shot off from the slot was denied by Shortridge, just a few plays later Mitchell Oliver's shot from the blueline was redirected on it's way to the net by Brett Stapley who couldn't beat Greenfield, coming up with a tough save. Vernon would get a late PP their first of the morning. Liam Finlay would get two cracks at a loose puck at the side of the net, couldn't get the puck up and over the pad of Matthew Greenfield who made two big pad saves down low as West Kelowna would kill off the penalty. Just three minutes later the Vipers would get their second look with the man advantage, with good puck movement the Vipers were unable to generate much offence as the Warriors would kill off the minor. WK who was outplayed most of the opening period stepped up the play in the final three minutes, as the Warriors with a strong forecheck had the Viper defence back on their heels. West Kelowna was all over Vernon late but didn't really get any good looks at the net, did carry the better of the play to end the frame. Vernon was up 1-0 after 20 minutes of play. The Vipers with their best 1st period in a long time, had a very strong first twenty minutes. Vernon come out with lots of jump, had lots of speed and energy going, carried a lot of the play was the better of the two teams. The Vipers with a strong forecheck and physical play had lots of offensive zone time on WK had some good chances scored the lone goal of the period. The Warriors other then a few shifts early to start the 1st were outplayed did manage to get going late in the period with a strong finish to end the 1st. West Kelowna didn't get a lot of zone time, played a lot of the opening period in their own end. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 12-8.
2nd Period: Off the opening faceoff West Kelowna come very close to tying the game on an odd man rush. I didn't catch the numbers-players, but Viper captain Colton McCarthy took one Warriors forward into the net, knocking the net off the mourings just as the puck come back out front where another West Kelowna player shot and fired, beat Vipers starting goaltender Andrew Shortridge but the net was already knocked off. A scrum informed in and around the Vernon goal, with some pushing and shoving. Less then two minutes into the middle frame Jonathan Desbiens walked around Latrell Charleson went hard to the goal was alone in front before shooting high on Shortridge missed the net, going up and over on a missed opportunity in close. On the next play the puck shot right out front before Nicholas Rutigliano was able to get off a quick shot couldn't beat the quick glove of Andrew Shortridge who come up with a nice glove save. On the following play, Kylar Hope setup Jonathan Desbiens on a Warriors two on one rush, Desbiens was denied by Shortridge as West Kelowna with a quick start, jumped on the Vipers. The Vipers looked a half step behind WK as the Warriors coming out to start the 2nd with a ton of jump and energy. West Kelowna would get an early powerplay just four minutes into the period. Bo Pellah would argue the call, ended up taking a ten minute misconduct on the play. With some good puck movement, the Warriors moved the puck around but a strong PK by the Vernon defence kept the Warriors to the outside. Just five minutes into the period West Kelowna was outshooting Vernon 6-2. Vernon with a solid penalty kill was able to kill off the minor. Lots of after the whistle activities with pushing and shoving, as both teams exchanged words between one another in a spirited period. Just over two minutes later WK would get their second look with the man advantage that lasted all of thirty nine seconds before the Warriors would take a penalty, evening up the play. Four on four Vipers leading scorer Odeen Tufto setup Liam Finlay at the side of the net, couldn't beat Warriors starting goaltender Matthew Greenfield who made a nice save at the side of the net keeping this a one goal game. Other then that play-opportunity it was all Warriors in the first half as West Kelowna dominated the play. As the second half began Vernon seemed to pick up their game as the play was a little more evenly matched. The Vipers had troubles staying out of the penalty box this frame sending West Kelowna to another man advantage. The Warriors didn't get much with the PP on another strong penalty kill by the Vipers. Vernon was lucky and able to kill off the minor. Colton McCarthy was very strong on the PK. McCarthy with atleast two one on one shorthanded rushes couldn't create any chances but killed a lot of time off the clock. Just like the end of the 1st West Kelowna come on strong to finish the 2nd period. The Warriors with a strong attack in the final minutes, had the Vipers running around in circles. Andrew Shortridge had to be sharp coming out to challenge Reed Gunville making a big save was very slow to get up. Shortridge stayed down for several seconds before getting to one knee and then slowly making his way back up to two feet was talking with one linesmen and a referee before play resumed. On the following shift the Vipers turned over the puck inside their own end, allowing Kyle Marino to rip a wicked shot on a two on one from in close forced Shortridge to make a huge pad save keeping this a one goal game. Shortridge with two big saves inside the final three minutes. The Vipers would take a late penalty giving WK a late powerplay to finish the period. Vernon was up 1-0 after 40 minutes of play. The Warriors with a great rebound period come out hard and fast, poured on all kinds of pressure, getting some great quality chances early and often couldn't beat Andrew Shortridge. West Kelowna was all over the Vipers, dominated most of the frame. The Warriors with a ton of pressure, had lots of zone time, were really moving the puck around, creating-generating chances. The Vipers come out flat, looked a step behind WK gave up way too many odd man rushes, scoring chances, and turned over the puck inside their own end, depended on Andrew Shortridge to bail them out. Vernon with very little pressure or zone time, played most of the 2nd period in their own end and on the penalty kill, as the Vipers had troubles staying out of the box. Give the Vipers penalty kill credit, they were very good this morning. The Vipers were lucky didn't give up a goal, had a one goal lead heading into the 3rd. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 20-8.
3rd Period: The Warriors started the final frame on the man advantage that was carried over from the end of the 2nd period. Just fourty four seconds into the powerplay-3rd Kylar Hope setup Jonathan Desbiens who went high on Andrew Shortridge shortside tying the game 1-1 at 0:44 Hope & Jake LeBrun with the assists. The Vipers responded with a good push back shift, Christian Cakebread setup Odeen Tufto going to the net who couldn't beat Matthew Greenfield who made a nice save. Greenfield then stopped Liam Finlay from the high slot just four minutes into the period as the Vipers with back to back quality chances. This would be about it for opportunities from both teams as both clubs tightened up defensively, with not a lot of scoring chances at either ends of the rink. Both teams had just three shots each in the first ten minutes. A lot of back and fourth play with very little opportunities. Both teams playing very cautiously. Into the second half, the Warriors would catch-get the break they needed. Jake Harrison's point shot was stopped by Shortridge before Quin Foreman somehow missed the open cage at the side of the net, shooting up and over the open net on a missed opportunity. But the Vipers couldn't clear the zone before Jared Marino spotted Reed Gunville in the slot who beat Andrew Shortridge, giving West Kelowna a 2-1 lead at 14:19 Marino and Quin Foreman picked up the assists. Mark Ferner was very upset with the officials, arguing after the goal. With Vernon down a goal with five minutes to go, the Vipers couldn't get any pressure/offence going. The Warriors with a great job at shutting down the Viper attack. With time winding down the Vipers would get Andrew Shortridge to the bench for the extra attacker with 1:40 remaining. Vernon unable to get any sustained pressure before the Warriors would spot Jonathan Desbiens wide open but somehow missed the open cage, West Kelowna would eventually get a second crack at the open cage. Garrett Forster was in all alone for the breakaway hit the open net giving West Kelowna a 3-1 lead at 19:11 Forster's goal was unassisted. After the goal Latrell Charleson highsticked a Warriors player before a scrum informed at centre ice, with everyone getting involved. Lots of bodies gathered around with lots of pushing and shoving. The scrum-melay had to be broken up before a lengthy delay working out the penalties. Charleson would get four minutes for high sticking, while Kyle Marino would get four minutes for roughing. Both players would be sent to the dressing rooms. The Vipers looked to be getting a powerplay before Mark Ferner was given a two minute bench minor penalty for arguing with the referee. Both teams playing five on five the Vipers would get Shortridge back to the bench off the following faceoff for the extra attacker, Vernon unable to really get good puck possession, the Warriors spotted a wide open Quin Foreman for the breakaway who hit the open cage giving West Kelowna a 4-1 lead at 19:37 Foreman's goal was unassisted. On the play Bo Pellah went down to the ice in a hurry just after the goal was scored, before another minor scrum-melay occurred in the corner with more pushing and shoving, with some punches thrown tempers really heated up in a hurry in a wild finish to the hockey game. Mac Ferner was hot and jumped over the boards to lineup for the faceoff, wanting to go after Reed Gunville. Gunville would get tossed from the game after taking a late minor and also picking up a ten minute misconduct. The Vipers would get a late powerplay to finish the game before the final buzzer as West Kelowna come away with the 4-1 victory. The Warriors with a huge powerplay goal, just fourty four seconds into the 3rd tied the game before both teams didn't give up much of anything for scoring chances. Other then two opportunities early by the Vipers, a very defensive 3rd period with very little shots-chances at both ends of the rink. WK would catch a break late in the frame to grab their first lead of the morning, wich ended up being the game winner in a very tight 3rd period. Two late empty netters by West Kelowna and some minor fireworks inside the final minute made for a bit of a wild finish in a 3rd period either team could have won. The Vipers had troubles getting any real sustained pressure after giving up the second goal and again once pulling the goaltender for the extra attacker. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 11-8.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Mitchell Oliver I thought played well this morning, was getting pucks-shots off from the point, played well defensively.
Brett Stapley was one of the hardest working Vipers today, was in along the trenches, battling for the puck-body position. Had a strong game up front for the Vipers.
Colton McCarthy with one of his better games in a long time. The Viper captain was very good on the penalty kill and through out the contest. I thought work-competed hard through out the game. Was going into battle for the puck, getting involved in the play.
Odeen Tufto was another Viper who played hard, created-generated some opportunities.
Liam Finlay didn't stand out much in the 2nd period but I thought was very noticeable in the 1st and 3rd periods. Really skating hard, trying to create/generate opportuntities. Had atleast three maybe four good looks-chances couldn't beat Matthew Greenfield.
Andrew Shortridge (35 saves) Was very solid between the pipes this morning. Shortridge who in my opinion has been the Vipers MVP this season, kept his team in the game, especially in that 2nd period when the Warriors controlled-dominated the play, getting a ton of quality chances. Shortridge made some big saves, gave his team a chance to win.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
For a third straight game the Vipers battled-played hard but come out on the short end of things. Just like the game in Merritt last week and the loss to Langley on Friday I thought the Vipers played hard this morning fell short. Other then the 2nd period Vernon was in today's game and held their own against a very strong West Kelowna team. The Vipers with one of if not their best 1st period in a while, got off to a great start. Vernon playing with a lot of jump-energy, was really flying early, had lots of pressure, were hitting and getting some good chances. Not sure what happened between periods but Vernon was a different team come the middle frame, the Vipers were a step behind, outplayed for most of the 2nd period. If it wasn't for Andrew Shortridge in that 2nd period, this game could have easily been over come the 3rd. The Vipers up 1-0 heading into the 3rd were still holding their own, couldn't hold the lead, after giving up an early powerplay goal to start the 3rd were in this game. West Kelowna catches a break to take the lead and the Vipers just couldn't muster any real pressure-attack to try and tie the game/force overtime. The Vipers arent going to win many games with just eight shots a piece in each of the final two periods. At this time of year you cant take 2nd periods off like the Vipers did today, Vernon needs to try and play a full sixty minutes especially at this time of year. Vernon has struggled at Royal LePage Place, has just three wins in their last eleven games here. The Vipers have lost three straight and at the worst time of year. Just two points up on Merritt for the final playoff spot things could get very interesting with Vernon playing West Kelowna tomorrow and again on Friday before heading to Chilliwack Saturday. The Vipers with just six games left in the regular season. I really liked the Vipers penalty kill, thought they played very well today. The Vipers who have just two goals in their last three games have scored just once in four of their last five games, need to try and find more ways to generate some offence to finish the regular season. Nic Rasovic made his Vipers debut today after signing with the Vipers on Thursday.
Top Player's: (West Kelowna)
Matthew Greenfield (27 saves) Was solid between the pipes today, was very good. Made some big saves in the opening frame with the Vipers putting on the pressure. Wasn't tested much in the 2nd and 3rd periods but come up with two big saves early to start the 3rd. A big goaltender dosnt give up a lot of rebounds-second opportunities.
Tyler Andreson I thought was one of the Warriors better defenceman today. Was solid defensively, played a strong game on the blueline.
Quin Foreman (1 goal & 1 assist) Played very well today, was going to the net, showed a lot of hustle and worked hard for his opportunities.
Reed Gunville (1 goal) Also played very well for West Kelowna. Had a few good looks-opportunities, was strong up front for the Warriors.
Kylar Hope (1 assist) Made some nice plays, didn't stand out as much as he has in past Vernon-West Kelowna games but was noticeable through out the game today.
Jonathan Desbiens (1 goal) Was by far the best Warrior on the ice, had a strong game, tied the game on an early 3rd period powerplay marker was a force all morning. Gave the Vipers all kinds of trouble, was hard to contain.
Kyle Marino Played with an edge, played physical, was involved in the play, didn't back down from the altercations after the whistle, was steady through out the game.
Game Thought's: (West Kelowna)
In a game where it looked like the Warriors may not find the back of the net, West Kelowna scores four times in the final frame to come away with the 4-1 victory. Today could have been anyone's game. WK were lucky to only be down a goal after the 1st as the Warriors were outplayed. Give West Kelowna credit for rebounding in the 2nd, totally dominated the middle frame, had all kinds of great chances couldn't solve Andrew Shortridge. The Vipers up 1-0 heading into the 3rd couldn't hold onto the lead in a very tight checking 3rd period with not a lot of scoring chances, until catching a break late in the period to grab their first lead of the day. It looked like both teams didn't want to make that first mistake in the 3rd. Not a lot of chances-opportunities in a pretty defensive game. West Kelowna couldn't capitalize on three 2nd period powerplays, would eventually get one in the 3rd. Overall I thought the Vipers were the better team in the 1st, West Kelowna was by far the better team in the 2nd and it was pretty evenly matched in the 3rd until two late empty netters inside the final minute put this game away. The Warriors improve to 4-1 against the Vipers this year travel to Vernon tomorrow for the second game of a home & home series. Both these same teams will meet again Friday in West Kelowna to finish off the season series. A bit of a weird schedule with playing each other three straight games, all within four days. After the late fireworks to finish today's game, you have to wonder whats going to happen Friday? Since a 3-2 loss in Vernon on January 22nd the Warriors have gone 9-1-1-0 as one of the hottest teams in the league. I over heard over 1250 students from local schools were at today's game. The Warriors wore their special Anti-Bullying Jerseys (white with light blue & pink trim/stripes) during warm-up but switched to their road black/maroon jerseys for the game, while the Vipers wore their home white with blue trim jerseys this morning. The rink was very close to being sold out, not many empty seats this morning. Todays game was free to enter with no admission-tickets. I would say 90% was kids-teachers with not a lot of adults at todays game. I counted-saw five maybe six Viper fans at today's game. A great atmosphere with the rink being very close to full, the kids making a lot of noise and adding some life-excitement into the building. Vees Head Coach-GM Fred Harbinson and his coaching staff were in attendance today.
Energy Player of the Game:
Kylar Hope (1 assist)
1st Star: Matthew Greenfield (27 saves)
2nd Star: Andrew Shortridge (35 saves)
3rd Star: Jonathan Desbiens (1 goal)
BCHL Game Summary,