Friday, March 12, 2010

Halcrow Heroics Stuff Snakes:

This is in todays Morning Star Newspaper:

Halcrow heroics stuff Snakes

By Graeme Corbett - Vernon Morning Star

Published: March 11, 2010

The Vernon Vipers fired 57 questions at netminder Kirby Halcrow Wednesday night at Wesbild Centre. The 18-year-old net detective solved all but two, posting a shining .965 save percentage as the Quesnel Millionaires shocked the Vernon Vipers 4-2 in Game 2 of their best-of-seven B.C. Hockey League Interior Conference semifinal.

The Snakes hammered Quesnel 6-2 in Game 1 Tuesday night. The series now heads north to Quesnel for Games 3 and 4, tonight and Saturday night respectively at the Vault.

Backstopped by the hulking Halcrow, a Grande Prairie product, the Mills didn’t generate many chances, but capitalized on their 22 shots, catching the Vipers flatfooted in their own end.

Vernon’s David Robinson got credit for an own-goal by Quesnel’s Taylor Egan at 4:05 of the first period. Halcrow stopped Robinson’s shot, but Egan appeared to bobble the rebound into his own net.

The Mills replied less than a minute later when Darick Ste-Marie banged home a sloppy rebound off Trever Hertz’s shot from 10 feet inside the blueline.

Quesnel, who lost all four regular-season games to Vernon and finished 55 points back, silenced the 1,600 fans when Tyler French capped off a three-way passing play with Clayton Chessa and Spencer Graboski, going upstairs on netminder Graeme Gordon late in the first period.

Despite being outshot 22-6 in the second frame, the Mills held Vernon scoreless while building a two-goal cushion as Justin Hogan wheeled behind the net and connected with Taylor Holst, who cruised unmolested through the slot for an easy one-timer.

“We definitely came out with some heart. Better than (Tuesday night),” said Holst, sporting a teal blue dye job. “We battled, we blocked shots and I think that’s why we won.

“He’s (Halcrow) been playing phenomenal, and we’ve been capitalizing on our opportunities.”

Added a beaming Halcrow: “It feels unreal to get the win, but I can’t take all the credit. The boys played real good. They’re the ones that put the puck in the net and I did my job too, so it was a real good team effort.”

Viper captain Kevin Kraus summed the game up with one word – frustrating.

“They play a frustrating game and that’s what they’re going to try to do to us. It worked for them tonight and it got to us. We started to get a little too fancy, a little too cute and got away from our game of hard hitting and hard hockey.”

Branden Redschlag, playing in just his second game with the Mills as a call-up, sealed the win with a point shot that deflected through traffic to beat Gordon five-hole.

Quesnel head coach Glen Watson was thrilled with how his squad rebounded from Tuesday night’s thorough pounding.

“We stuck to our game-plan tonight and I thought we did a good job of containing guys and handling the pressure.

“We were good on our forecheck, created some turnovers and just capitalized on our opportunities.”

Robbie Short, with his third goal in two playoff games, pulled Vernon within two, but Quesnel repelled any further attacks, even when the Vipers were on a late powerplay with Gordon pulled for two extra skaters.

Said Vipers’ head coach Mark Ferner: “One thing our guys need to realize is they want to win as bad as we do and it’s not going to be easy.

“When we get our opportunities we’ve got to bear down. We had tons of opportunities and instead of just trying to score the goal we’ve got to put it through the back of the net.”

Referee Grant Tyson awarded the Vipers six powerplays, while giving the Mills none.

The Snakes now have to contend with playing in a smaller rink where any shot from inside the redline could conceivably be considered scoring chances. And Quesnel fans will be bordering on mob-like knowing their team has a chance to play spoiler for a second straight series. This is the first time they have ever been in the second round of the post-season.

“Everyone hates playing in our barn. We’ve just got to come out flying, hitting and just play our style,” said Holst.

Added Watson: “It’s a good buzz right now in town. It should be a good crowd Friday night.”

“You’ve just got to play a simple game in Quesnel. There’s a lot of electricity in the stands, so you want to make sure you’re not over confident. We’ve got work to do.”

In Game 1, it took the Vipers about 10 minutes to shake off the rust from a 16-day layoff. After that, the Mills didn’t really have much of a say.

The Vipers got two goals apiece from Short and Braden Pimm (first and second star respectively) before 1,900 fans at Wesbild.

The Mills took an early lead when Holst cashed in the rebound off Hertz’s original shot, but that seemed to spark the Vipers because less than a minute later Short tipped in Kraus’s point shot to equalize.

After that, Vernon began pressuring Quesnel’s defence with a stifling cycle, then opened up a 46-shot barrage on Halcrow. Cory Kane (third star) and Curtis Gedig, each with a goal and assist, completed the Viper attack.

Chris Kerr was the only other Millionaire to beat Gordon (12 saves), chipping a puck over the Vernon keeper at 7:08 of the third period.

“It took us a bit of time to get going, but then things started to click,” said Kane, an Irvine Calif. product. “We won all the (regular-season) games against them, but they picked up a bunch of new guys (via trade) and obviously they were playing pretty well so you’ve got to respect your opponent.”

SNAKE BITES: Before Wednesday’s puck drop, Viper defenceman Stevie Weinstein was honoured with the first-ever Wayne Buck Memorial Bursary for his hard work and unselfish play. The 19-year-old Los Angeles product played in all 60 regular-season games, recording 22 points without taking a single penalty minutes. The $500 bursary, sponsored by Kiss-FM, is named after the Vipers’ late P.A. announcer, who died of a heart attack last October.

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