Gordon blanks Mills for series lead
by Don Klepp | Added 2010-03-16
A complete team effort by the Vernon Vipers and solid goaltending by Graeme Gordon led to a 4-0 win and a 3-2 series lead versus the Quesnel Millionaires.
Gordon, who had been struggling to regain his form following a late-season injury, stopped 26 shots. The Millionaires had all of their eight scoring chances on six power plays and that’s when Gordon was at his best, especially in some frantic action around his net. He controlled rebounds very well, so the Mills had very few second chance shots.
Gordon was satisfied with his performance: “I’ve been working hard at my rebound control and my angles. That will be especially important tomorrow in Quesnel.”
At the other end, Kirby Halcrow stopped 34 of 38 shots, many from close range. However, his puck handling left much to be desired. His gaffe behind his net led to a Connor Jones goal at 10:01 of the first period. Connor’s short handed marker was his sixth of the season and the 12th time this year that he has opened the scoring in a BCHL game.
Mike Collins followed the Jones goal by popping in a rebound of a Braden Pimm shot at 14:33. Pimm had stick handled his way though three defenders and fired a shot that Halcrow could not control.
The first period was played at a fierce pace, with non-stop body checking. The Vipers registered 19 hits in the period, and the Mills joined the hit parade with 13 hits of their own. That trend continued in the second period, as the Vipers pounded out another 19 solid hits,
As the game progressed, the Vipers started to wear the Mills down and they out chanced the Mills 9-2 in the second period. Despite the dominance, the Vipers were unable to build on the 3-0 lead fashioned by Kellen Jones early in the second. He was set up nicely by brother Connor and new line mate Sahir Gill. Later in the period, Kellen once again tried the forehand-backhand move that worked earlier, but Halcrow stayed with Kellen.
The Millionaires were unable to break through in the third period as the Vipers tightened their defensive shell, After a long range Cole Ikkala goal that caught Halcrow out of his net at 18:24, tempers flared, First, Kevin Kraus and Taylor Holst got tossed for unpleasantness toward each other. Then, Branden Redschlag and Dylan Walchuk fought at 18:32, a bout that was the first BCHL tilt for each.
The main event came at 18:51, when veteran David Robinson speed bagged rookie Brandon Watson, who had been looking for trouble right from the pre-game warm-up when he worked the red line.
The Vipers can wrap up the series with a win Tuesday, while the Mills hope to earn a seventh game Wednesday back in Vernon. An omen perhaps came when the Viper team bus passed the Millionaire bus in Kamloops as the two teams traveled overnight to Quesnel.