I was at tonight's Vipers-Warriors game as West Kelowna defeated Vernon 5-4 in front of 1,378 fans at Royal LePage Place.
Vernon: Andrew Shortridge
West Kelowna: Matthew Greenfield
Before tonight's game the Warriors presented forward Garrett Forster with a plaque after being named the teams Player of the month for the month of January.
1st Period: A physical start to tonight's contest, Hunter Zandee with a huge check deep inside the West Kelowna zone before Ben Butcher took a big hit at the Warriors blueline. Both teams coming out hitting off the opening faceoff. West Kelowna capitalized on a Viper turn over come very close to opening the scoring early. Bo Pellah turned over the puck two minutes into the game, right in front of Andrew Shortridge. Shortridge had to be alert made a big save off Jonathan Desbiens who I don't think got a good shot off, but still was stopped by Shortridge in close. Both teams looked fairly even at the start, with not a lot of zone time or pressure as the play went back and fourth with very limited scoring chances. Both teams didn't have a lot of room to try and create-generate any opportunities in a fairly defensive game early. The Warriors would open the scoring after Kylar Hope missed the net on a good opportunity after a shot from the slot, the Vipers couldn't clear the zone, WK kept the play alive before spotting Jonathan Desbiens who ripped a quick high shot shortside beat Andrew Shortridge giving West Kelowna a 1-0 lead at 8:05 Brett Mennear & Kylar Hope with the helpers. Just less then three minutes later WK would get the games first powerplay. The Warriors jammed the crease, trying to put home the loose puck on a goal mouth scramble, but Andrew Shortridge somehow was able to find and cover the puck. On the next play, Hunter Zandee setup Joe Sacco on a Viper shorthanded rush, Sacco with a lazer shot shortside beat Matthew Greenfield tying the game 1-1 at 11:41 Zandee with the lone assist. This was the Vipers first good scoring chance, wich found the back of the net. Vernon was able to kill off the remainder of the penalty. A few minutes later Nicholas Rutigliano with a quick shot from the blueline couldn't beat Shortridge who flashed the leather, making a big glove save, keeping this game tied. The Warriors pulled away in the shot department were outshooting Vernon at this point 16-8. With less then five minutes to go in the 1st the Vipers slowly started to take control of the game. Vernon slowly coming on, had some good pressure were pouring it on late. Christian Cakebread fed Odeen Tufto who got behind the West Kelowna defence, went in for the breakaway beat Matthew Greenfield fivehole giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 16:23 Cakebread & Riley Brandt picked up the assists. The Vipers kept coming, less then a minute later with a ton of pressure in close, Ben Butcher would be denied by Greenfield in front before getting the puck for a second time was stopped by Greenfield who kicked out the right pad, made a huge pad save before Liam Finlay spotted Butcher going to the net, Butcher hit the open cage giving Vernon a 3-1 lead at 17:16 Finlay and Jagger Williamson collected the helpers. Vernon was up 3-1 after 20 minutes of play. The Warriors would open the scoring before giving up the following three goals. Both teams looked fairly even to start, with not a lot of scoring chances. The Vipers didn't get their first opportunity until they tied the game on Joe Sacco's shorthanded goal. Vernon come on strong late, finished getting lots of pressure and two late goals less then a minute apart. Shots were even 17-17.
2nd Period: The Vipers come very close to grabbing a three goal lead just twenty seconds into the middle frame on a goal mouth scramble, couldn't find the back of the net after Warriors starting goaltender Matthew Greenfield was able to smother the loose puck. Vernon would get their first look with the powerplay, just fourty six seconds into the 2nd period. The Vipers with not a lot of pressure or opportunities couldn't capitalize with the man advantage. The Warriors would then slowly take over the edge in play, carrying the better of the play early. West Kelowna didn't get a lot of chances but controlled the better of the play before getting their second PP of the night. Just thirteen seconds into the powerplay former Prince George Spruce King Jake LeBrun setup Kylar Hope at the side of the net got the Warriors to within a goal cutting the Vernon lead to 3-2 at 5:33 LeBrun with the lone assist. Just less then two minutes later Kylar Hope was stopped at the side of the net, after Vipers starting goaltender Andrew Shortridge made a huge pad save down low, Hope & Shortridge would get tangled up before Mac Ferner jumped inbetween the two. Ferner and Hope started pushing and shoving before everyone got involved. Even Andrew Shortridge jumped in the middle of the scrum. Vernon would come out of the melay with the powerplay. For a second time this frame the Vipers were unable to capitalize with the man advantage. The Warriors carried the edge in play but didn't get a lot of great opportunities. The Vipers didn't get a lot of zone time, had very little pressure in the WK zone unable to generate much offence. Christian Cakebread seemed to have a target on his jersey, as the Warriors were going after the first year Viper all night. With seven and a half minutes left, Riley Brandt handcuffed Matthew Greenfield who made the save, couldn't hold onto the puck as it landed near the top of the crease, but the Vipers weren't close enough to bury the rebound on a missed opportunity. Just less then two minutes later Jonathan Desbiens made the Vipers pay for a second time tonight. Desbiens who has had the Vipers number this season, was left alone in the slot was able to rip a wicked shot from the slot past Andrew Shortridge tying the game 3-3 at 15:25 Nicholas Rutigliano and Brett Mennear with the helpers. But just twenty four seconds later Vernon with their third PP of the period would regain the lead. Former Surrey Eagles defenceman Latrell Charleson gobbled up the loose puck on a goal mouth scramble, found the back of the net, giving Vernon a 4-3 lead at 16:25 Liam Finlay & Odeen Tufto picked up the helpers. Rylan Ferster was really giving it to the official after the goal, called over the referee and really gave him an earful. Vernon with a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes of play. The Warriors down two heading into the middle frame, rallied after the Vipers blew a 3-1 lead regained the lead late in the frame. West Kelowna was the better of the two teams, carried most of the play. The Warriors with good pressure and lots of zone time, didn't get a lot of opportunities, capitalized on their chances. Vernon didn't get a lot of pressure or zone time, went 0-3 in the 2nd with the man advantage. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 13-12.
3rd Period: The Warriors were very late to entering the ice for the start of the 3rd period after Rylan Ferster come out to the bench early, to chat with the referee. Ferster was really giving the ref an earful and in discust as the Warriors eventually made their way to the ice for the start of the final period. For a second straight period the Warriors carried the play early before getting an early powerplay. With good pressure, Quin Foreman was robbed. Foreman looked to have a wide open cage, was stoned by Andrew Shortridge who somehow got across the blue paint to make a game saver. WK would keep the puck moving before Jake Harrison's blast from the point had eyes, found it's way through traffic going upstairs past Shortridge tying the game 4-4 at 3:27 Former Trail Smoke Eater & Prince George Spruce King Bryan Basilico & Garrett Forster with the helpers. West Kelowna kept coming and in waves. The Vipers back on their heels had all kinds of troubles clearing the zone/getting through the neutral zone. Vernon needed eight minutes to get their first shot of the period. It was all Warriors as WK dominated the play. But again the Warriors didn't get a lot of chances, carried the edge in play but had troubles getting opportunities. The Warriors once again were going after Christian Cakebread, Cakebread had words with Bryan Basilico who tried to go after Cakebread as the two headed to the benches. Lots of yapping between the two benches and inbetween whistles. Both teams giving one another, little jabs or taps with their sticks at the faceoffs, trying to get one another off their game or trying to sucker the other guy into taking a penalty. With eight minutes remaining the Vipers would get just their second shot of the period. With six and a half minutes to go, West Kelowna come very close to grabbing the lead. A shot from the point along the ice, went off the end boards before coming back out front looked to hit the back of Andrew Shortridge before the Viper goaltender fell onto the loose puck in the crease on a very close call. Vernon playing most of the entire 3rd in their own end, had very little shifts inside the Warriors end of the rink. The Vipers with little to no offensive pressure, were back on their heels. With three and a half minutes remaining, Jared Marino carried the play into the Vernon zone, before going by his defender was in the clear ripped a shot from the top of the circle, forced Shortridge into making a big save late in the game, keeping this game tied. With two minutes left, the Warriors poured on the pressure. West Kelowna with a strong forecheck, had the Vipers reeling inside their own zone, running in circles the Vipers couldn't clear the zone. Vernon did a good job at closing the shooting lanes-blocking shots limiting the Warriors quality chances. Inside a minute left the Vipers still couldn't clear the zone, in the dying seconds the Vipers couldn't clear the zone, the Warriors were able to feed the puck to Garrett Forster who's seeing eye shot, somehow found the back of the net, giving West Kelowna a 5-4 lead at 19:54 sending Royal LePage Place into a frenzy. Forster's goal was unassisted. With just 5.1 seconds left in the game, the Vipers were devisted, as the entire Viper bench had their heads between their legs in shock. Mark Ferner would call a timeout as Andrew Shortridge skated to the bench, took his frustration out on the bench smashing his stick along the top of the boards, before throwing a water bottle, made his way to the Vipers dressing room. Just before the faceoff, Shortridge would return to the bench, where he would stay, giving the Vipers an extra attacker for the final 5.1 seconds. The puck was dropped and the seconds winded down before the final buzzer as West Kelowna come away with the come from behind 5-4 win. The Vipers coaching staff had left the bench with still three seconds to go in the game as the Vipers on the bench and on the ice, were devisted. Mac Ferner took his frustration out on the boards, smahing and breaking his stick across the boards before slamming the gate door to the Vipers bench as he went off the ice. Ferner landed several punches along the wall heading to the Vipers dressing room. West Kelowna with an early powerplay goal to tie the game, totally dominated the 3rd from start to finish. The Warriors carried the entire play, had the Vipers on their heels for most of the period. Vernon needed eight minutes to get their first shot of the 3rd and only had two shots on goal with eight minutes to go in the period. It was just a matter of time before the Warriors were going to score the game winner. West Kelowna didn't get a lot of scoring chances, moved the puck around, looking for their opportunities. The Vipers struggled to get any kind of pressure or zone time, didn't get much time in the offensive zone, played most of the 3rd in their own end. The Vipers limited the Warriors scoring chances but couldn't hold off the Warriors attack in the end. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 16-3.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Christian Cakebread was enemy #1 in West Kelowna tonight, as the Warriors were going after the Viper forward all night. I thought Cakebread fed off of this, played with a lot of jump and energy, was really working and competing hard.
Joe Sacco (1 goal) Hasn't done much lately, had one of his better games in a long time. I was expecting a lot more from Sacco this year, had a strong game for the Vipers this evening. Was skating hard & involved in the play.
Callum Volpe Played very well on the blueline. Not the biggest defenceman out there, held his own against a much bigger/strong Warriors team, was steady-played hard all night.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
The Vipers who haven't played very well in the 1st period lately, had a strong opening frame tonight. Vernon gave up the games first goal, but didn't quit, responded with three straight to grab a 3-1 lead. I thought the Vipers were skating, had lots of jump, held their own against West Kelowna in the 1st, looked very good. In the 2nd the Vipers give up an early powerplay goal, just couldn't get much going. Vernon couldn't get much pressure-zone time, were outplayed for most of the 2nd period. Vernon goes 1-3 with the powerplay. The Vipers blow a 3-1 lead before scoring late, to take a 4-3 lead into the 3rd. Another early powerplay costs the Vipers and the games tied. Vernon struggled offensively, getting just two shots in the first twelve minutes, were totally outplayed. The Vipers back on their heels, played most of the 3rd in their own end. Vernon had all kinds of troubles getting out of their own end, getting through the neutral zone and getting any pressure or zone time. You knew it was a matter of time before the Warriors were going to take the lead, as you could see it coming. The Vipers looking to just hold on to and get the extra point, give up the game winner with 5.1 seconds to go. The Vipers were devisted, as the bench looked dejected. It was like a punch in the gut! A heartbreaking loss! A huge loss in a game they needed! Frustration boiled over at the end of the game, after Andrew Shortridge and Mac Ferner took frustration out on their sticks. The Vipers have lost five straight and have just one win in their last seven games. The Vipers finish the regular season 1-5 vs West Kelowna, now have just two wins at Royal LePage Place since 2010. I know the Vipers have a very young, inexperienced team but these are games at this time of year you have to hold onto! Up 3-1 on the road, in a rink you haven't had a lot of luck in the past several years, you need to bare down-empty the tank and come away with the victory. The Vipers need to bare down and try and generate more chances-opportunities. The Vipers other then their four goals, didn't get a lot of great chances tonight. Held to the outside, away from the front of the net, didn't get any second or third opportunities. Give Vernon some credit, who limited the Warriors chances. The Vipers just don't have the experience, size and proven goal scorers to compete with teams like West Kelowna, Penticton & Salmon Arm. The Vipers smaller forwards dont matchup well against the much bigger West Kelowna defence. Vernon catches a bit of a break after Merritt losses 6-4 in Trail as now the Centennials are still two points back of the Vipers for the final playoff spot, while the Smoke Eaters move to within three points of the Vipers. The Vipers are in Chilliwack tomorrow, while Merritt host Alberni Valley.
Top Player's: (West Kelowna)
Rylan Yaremko may have taken three penalties tonight, but I thought had a strong game for the Warriors. Yaremko played with an edge, was in the face of the Vipers all night, was hard to beat one on one, was in your face after every play-whistle, plays with a bit of mean streak, hard to play against, gets under your skin.
Kylar Hope (1 goal & 1 assist) Has played well against the Vipers all season, played with a lot of jump in his game, had lots of energy, was going to the net, seemed to add that spark to the Warriors lineup.
Bryan Basilico (1 assist) I thought this was a big addition-pickup for the Warriors come the Trade deadline. A veteran-savy player that adds that veteran presence to your lineup. Has some decent size, is a role player, that can play physical, get in your face, play with an edge and chip in with some timely goals.
Jonathan Desbiens (2 goals) Recorded 4 goals and 4 assists this week in the three games vs the Vipers. Desbiens has had the Vipers number this season. I didn't think Desbiens stood out like he did in Tuesdays 4-1 win over Vernon but was a big factor in tonight's game-victory. Opened the scoring for the Warriors and then tied the game in the 2nd after being left alone in the slot. Had a few chances through out the game, played very well. Seemed to be a lot more involved in the after the whistle activities tonight more then usual. A good, fast hard skater, has a wicked shot, very hard to contain-defend against.
Nicholas Rutigliano (1 assist) I thought played very well in the win. Seemed to get several shots off from the point, was getting pucks to the net, played well at both ends of the rink.
Jared Marino also had a strong game for West Kelowna. Had a few chances, was going to the net, involved in the play, plays hard, competes and hard to play against.
Game Thought's: (West Kelowna)
The Warriors played a very hard fought-strong game all the way around. Even though down 3-1 after the opening period, this game was not over! West Kelowna didn't quit-panic, scored early on the powerplay to start the 2nd would eventually tie the game. The Warriors took over the game in the 2nd and 3rd and totally dominated the 3rd period. WK carried the play, didn't get a lot of chances, eventually found a way to pull out the win in the dying seconds. I thought the Warriors powerplay was clicking, going 2-3 was also very good on the penalty kill. Give the Warriors credit, they killed off two of three penalties in the 2nd period. I also thought the West Kelowna defence was solid, really limited the Vipers chances, held Vernon to the outside most of the game. After the 1st the Vipers really didnt get a lot of quality chances. Give the Warriors a lot of credit for not folding the tents, no panic, clawed back with a huge emotional come from behind victory. This team is big, have a ton of veteran guys, big-strong defence, two solid goaltenders and some kids that can put the puck in the net, this team is built for the playoffs and could make some noise if they stay hot like they are now. since a 3-2 loss in Vernon on January 22nd the Warriors have gone 11-1-1-0 With the win West Kelowna clinches 2nd place in the Interior Division. The Warriors with just one game left, next week vs Salmon Arm. A good size crowd tonight. The Warriors wore their special Anti-Bullying jerseys tonight, the same ones they wore Wednesday in Vernon.
Jimmy Lambert (Injured)
Energy Player of the Game:
Kylar Hope (1 goal & 1 assist)
1st Star: Jonathan Desbiens (2 goals)
2nd Star: Odeen Tufto (1 goal & 1 assist)
3rd Star: Garrett Forster (1 goal)
BCHL Game Summary,
Kyle Anderson's West Kelowna Warriors Blog,