Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Vipers Blank Mills Again:

This is posted on the Vipers website:

Vipers blank Mills again

by Don Klepp | Added 2010-03-17

Graeme Gordon posted his second straight shutout and five different Vipers scored in Quesnel Tuesday. The convincing 5-0 win concluded the series against a plucky Millionaire team in six games.

Again, Gordon swallowed up pucks to prevent rebounds and his butterfly pad work robbed the Mills on several close chances around the net. He finished with 25 saves to reduce his goals against average to 1.20 and improve his save percentage to 93.10.

During the first two periods, the Mills were unable to cope with the Vipers’ speed, and the Vipers generated a flood of scoring chances. Again, Kirby Halcrow stood his ground to save 16 of 17 shots in the first period. He blocked 16 of 18 in the second, as he basically kept his team in the game.

The opening goal came on a fine individual effort by Jonathan Milhouse, who picked up a loose puck in the Quesnel zone, beat a defender to the right and shot back to the left. The puck zipped inside Halcrow’s right post.

With the Vipers continuing to create chances off the rush, Sahir Gill and Garrett Noonan increased the Viper lead in the second period. Gill has been reinstated on the Jones line, where he looks right at home. He finished off a high speed rush with Connor and Kellen by zipping in a shot from a tight angle.

Noonan’s goal was his first since his overtime winner versus Quesnel on October 24. Halcrow got a piece of Noonan’s strong wrist shot, but the puck rolled across the line.

In an attempt to extend their season, the Mills started the third period with a flurry, but were unable to break through, even though they registered the first 6 shots of the period. That run was interrupted by a Connor Jones power play goal as he finished off a slick three-way passing play with Kellen Jones and Sahir Gill.

Cole Ikkala, with his fourth goal in the last four games, completed the scoring. Ikkala skated with Rob Short and Cory Kane, a line that made an impact at last May’s RBC national championship.

The capacity crowd in the Quesnel Twin Arenas saluted their team following the game, knowing full well that a new sense of purpose has arrived for the Millionaire franchise.

The Vipers will now prepare to meet the Penticton Vees Friday, to begin the best-of-seven Interior Conference finals. The two top teams in this year’s BCHL are well-matched and should provide a memorable series.

Game Notes:

• As on Monday, Connor Jones was first star and Graeme Gordon was second star.

• Jones was the top scorer in the six-game series, with four goals and five assists. Taylor Holst led the Mills with 3 + 3.

• After going 64 games without drawing a penalty, Steve Weinstein was penalized for the second game in a row.

• The Ste-Marie/Verheyden/Desmarais line, which had been so dominant in the Millionaires’ upset of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, was held to two goals in the six games.

• Special teams were not really a factor in this series. The Vipers went 4 for 29 with the man advantage, while the Millionaires scored twice in 18 power plays. Neither team managed a power play goal in the three games played in Vernon. However, Connor Jones’s short handed goal was a major factor in Monday’s game 5.

• All three of Graeme Gordon’s shutouts this season have come against Quesnel.

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