Thursday, March 25, 2010

Viper Special Teams Vanquish Vees:

This is posted on the Vipers website:

Viper special teams vanquish Vees

by Don Klepp Added 2010-03-25

The Vernon Vipers scored an even strength goal early in their 5-0 win in Penticton Wednesday. They added four special team markers as the Vipers took a commanding 3-1 lead in their Interior Division series with the Vees.

A harbinger of things to come occurred when Braden Pimm was penalized just 19 seconds into the game. The Vees created one scoring chance in the next two minutes, but the Vipers came closer to scoring when Connor Jones outraced a defender and poked the puck past Sean Bonar, only to see it find the goal post.

Bryce Kakoske had not scored in nine previous playoff games, but he notched the first two to kick start the Viper offence that had been shut out by Sean Bonar the previous evening.

His first came on a one-timer from the slot at 7:31 of the first period. Jonathan Milhouse made a strong play, holding off a defender and deftly saucering a backhand pass while the two roared into the Vee zone.

The Vipers were out shot 9-5 in the opening frame, but had five scoring chances while the Vees had just two. The visitors continued to generate chances in the middle frame, especially on the power play. Kakoske converted one of those chances at 5:03, when he re-directed a low Milhouse shot past Bonar.

Adam Thompson added to the lead with another power play goal at 10:11, after Ryan Viselli had taken an undisciplined roughing penalty. Thompson’s hard low slapper beat Bonar, who was partially screened. Half of the Vipers’ eight scoring chances in the period came on three power plays.

Meanwhile, the Vee line of Logan Johnston, Ryan Viselli, and Eric Filiou kept on working. Their efforts deep in the Viper zone created most of the Vees’ five second-period chances, but Graeme Gordon was very sharp on plays around his net, and the Vipers allowed few second-chance shots.

Each team had three power plays in the final period, including a two-man advantage for the Vees. They ramped that advantage up to a six-on-three attack by pulling Bonar for an extra attacker with the score 4-0 and five minutes remaining. However, they were unable to capitalize and are now 0 for 12 with the man advantage in this series.

Rubbing salt in the Vees’ wounds, Mike Collins scored a superb short handed goal at 13:15. He took a pass from Braden Pimm at centre, beat Joey Laleggia at the Vee blue line, and froze Bonar with a forehand move before depositing a backhand shot under the bar.

Cole Ikkala capped the scoring with Vernon’s third power play marker. He knocked a rebound out of midair after Bonar had been unable to control Steve Weinstein’s wicked point shot.

Graeme Gordon preserved his fourth shutout of the post season, all in the past six games, with a spectacular spoke save during a Vee power play. While on his side, he spun his arms and pads in a wheel pattern, and prevented the puck from entering the top corner with his left leg. (Andrew Hammond made this save famous during last year’s Doyle Cup series.)

The fifth game of the series will go at Vernon’s Wesbild Centre on Friday. Viper fans have been challenged to surpass the Wednesday night attendance of 2171. With another win, the Vipers could move on to the BCHL final versus Alberni Valley or Powell River.

If the Vees are to extend the series, they will have to get production from Denver Manderson, Beau Bennett, and their other three players who registered 28 or more goals in the regular season.

In particular, they will need to produce on the power play, which has surrendered two short handed goals in addition to being held scoreless in four games. More than any other team in the league, the 2009-10 Vees have depended on power plays to ignite their offence – nearly 40 percent of their goals have come from this source.

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