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Vipers win wild contest in Quesnel
by Don Klepp | Added 2010-03-13
In a game that had plenty of intensity and a number of defensive lapses, the visiting Vernon Vipers rocked the Quesnel Millionaires 8-4 on Friday.
Goalie Kirby Halcrow, the hero of Quesnel’s 4-2 win on Wednesday, allowed 7 goals on 25 shots before being pulled in the third period. By that time, Coach Glen Watson and first line centre, Justin Hogan, had been sent to the showers by referee Kris Hartley.
The ejections emanated from Justin Hogan’s direct-line hit on Viper goalie Blake Voth at 8.08 of the second period. Hogan was issued a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Dan Nycholat was issued four minutes for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct when he confronted Hogan and Taylor Holst about Hogan’s hit on the goalie.
Following Adam Thompson’s power play goal at 8:22 and a subsequent strike by Kellen Jones at 8:42, Watson vented his frustration and was issued a bench minor before he fully expressed his displeasure and earned a game misconduct.
The Quesnel contingent argued that the major penalty on Hogan had been harsh and that the subsequent two goals proved to be the game’s turning point. In truth, however, the decisive blows were struck in the first period.
For the 11th time this season, Connor Jones scored the opening goal in the game, characteristically on a breakaway effort. A quick pass from Steve Weinstein found Kellen Jones breaking through centre ice and Kellen relayed to Connor just over the Quesnel blue line. Connor split the defence and pulled Halcrow across the crease before slipping a backhand through Halcrow’s pads at 4:14.
Jones’s move was identical to breakaway moves he and Sahir Gill had tried on Wednesday, only to be foiled by Halcrow. This evening, Sahir Gill further dented Halcrow’s armor by sliding a 55-footer whose pace fooled Halcrow and the puck nipped inside the far post for a 2-0 lead at 14:46.
After the Vipers extended their lead to 4-0, defencemen Rylan Stanyer and Eliot Raibl fired high shots that eluded Blake Voth. Stanyer’s goal came from the far boards when he was the only Millionaire in the Viper zone in the midst of a Quesnel player change. Voth was screened on the Raibl shot, which came on the power play.
In between their tallies, Cole Ikkala one-timed a low shot past Halcrow after Braden Pimm and Mike Collins had won battles in the offensive zone. (AP call-up Branden Redschlag’s indecision with the puck along the boards was the impetus for Pimm to rush in for the steal.)
As in the second, the Vipers outscored the Mills 3-2 in the third. The Mills started the period with renewed vigour and although they had several good chances in the first half of the period, they were unable to beat Blake Voth. But then Taylor Holst threw the capacity crowd into a frenzy at 11:02 when he re-directed Eliot Raibl’s point shot past the rookie Viper goalie.
That frenzy was silenced at 13:27. Connor Jones was sprung free by a probing Garret Noonan pass in the Quesnel zone and Connor stickhandled Halcrow to his knees before depositing the puck in the open net. A minute later, Bryce Kakoske blocked a Millionaire point shot and the puck squirted to Jonathan Milhouse who would not be caught on his breakaway rush. At 14:29, Milhouse beat Halcrow through the five-hole for the Californian’s first goal in 16 games.
Clayton Chessa made the score 7-4 when he banged in a puck that Voth thought he had frozen, at 18:59. Sahir Gill capped the scoring at 19:54 when he showed great patience before lifting the puck over a sprawled Luke Siemens, who had deputized for Halcrow after the Milhouse goal.
Viper Coach Mark Ferner called the game “rather bizarre, not a typical playoff game,” not only because of the 12 goals, but also because of the frequent turnovers in the neutral zone. “We normally take much better care of the puck,” said Ferner after the game.
• The Vipers have now scored 24 goals in their three visits to Quesnel this season. In each of the games, Quesnel’s starting goaltender has been pulled late in the game.
• Each team scored two power play goals, after each team had failed to convert power play chances in the opening two matches in Vernon.
• The announced crowd of 1125 was a sellout. Fans stood three deep in the glassed-in mezzanine area as playoff fever grips Quesnel.
• Kirby Halcrow, who has been so strong at times in the Quesnel playoff run, saw his goals against average balloon to 3.48 and his save percentage drop to 90.10 percent.
• Taylor Holst, the best Millionaire in the regular season versus the Vipers, led the Mills with a goal and an assist, as did Eliot Raibl and Rylan Stanyer.
• The Jones twins led the Viper attack with three points each. Kellen was named first star and Connor second star.
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