Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Warriors 5 - Vipers 2

The West Kelowna Warriors knocked off the Vernon Vipers by a 5-2 margin on Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place in what was a frustrating start, but a mid-game takeover that worked well in the Warriors favour.

The Warriors opened up the scoring in the first minute of action, after some great work in their own zone from Rylan Yaremko. A great play in tight by Connor Sodergren ended up with Garrett Forster hammering home a loose puck past Brendan Barry.
A show-stopping save from Matthew Greenfield kept the game 1-0 halfway through the opening 20 minutes as an unreal pad save stopped a Vernon 2 on 0. Ben Butcher and Steven Jandric broke in all alone after a bad Warriors pass, and after Butcher got the puck back from Jandric, Greenfield's left pad came out of nowhere for the unreal stop.
The Vipers would finally beat Greenfield as Odeen Tufto tucked one home by sending one on goal through a bit of a screen in tight, sliding it between the legs of Greenfield.

In the 2nd period, the Vipers Christian Cakebread drove wide and beat both Yaremko and Greenfield to give Vernon a 2-1 lead on a great burst of speed tucking it home, but it was a sparking moment for the Warriors.
The Warriors took over the game for stretches at that point, and it turned into a record-tying 8 seconds for the at the mid-point of the period, as Liam Blackburn tied the game on a great shot in tight to get the pro-Warriors crowd of 751 on their feet.
After the ensuing face-off rolled onto Barry for another whistle, Jonathan Desbiens slapped home the biscuit off the draw to give the Warriors the lead they would not relinquish. It was a great comeback for Desbiens, who didn't play part of the first period after taking a slash on the elbow that bothered his arm, but he came back to finish up a 3-point night.

In the 3rd, Kylar Hope’s pass attempt from the corner eluded Barry and crossed the goal-line, before Tyler Anderson’s 1st BCHL goal into an empty-net sealed the deal. It was a moment of celebration for the 19 year old from Niverville, Manitoba. He got the draw right from Liam Blackburn, and hit the middle of the net from inside the blueline.
The game wasn’t quite over when a scrum ensued in the corner, and with 1 second left Reed Gunville and Ben Butcher dropped the gloves (above) in a feisty fight that ended with Gunville picking up an instigator penalty. 

There was a long discussion at the penalty box over the penalties, and the players met at the blueline to talk things over. While they wasn't much muscle in the conversation, Rylan Ferster called his players over to the bench as everything got sorted out. It took about 5 minutes, including a minute of trying to get the coaches to declare which lines they'd have on the ice, before the officials wisely ran the remaining second off the clock.
Game Thoughts:
  • The Warriors had the first 5 shots on goal, but after an unreal save from Matthew Greenfield, the Vipers seemed to take command of the opening period, with a 13-11 edge after the first on the shot clock. The power plays were even at 2 after the opening frame but the Vipers had the better looks on the man advantage.
  • The two quick goals in 8 seconds really sparked the Warriors, as a brilliant shot from Blackburn made it 2-2, before Jonathan Desbiens slapped a rolling puck past Brendan Barry to take the lead. It was an odd set of circumstances with a pair of face-offs leading to the scoring, but a crucial moment in the game nonetheless. 
  • Matthew Greenfield's 1st period save was maybe the best of the year, and he followed that up with some solid saves throughout the game. The Warriors allowed less than 30 shots for the first time in a few games as well, which was a regular occurrence early on this season. It was good to see the Warriors play tighter on defence, but it helped that they had the puck a lot throughout the night as well. 
  • A big weekend ahead for West Kelowna with a match-up against Trail and a visit to Salmon Arm on Friday and Saturday. The Warriors will need to take advantage of a road-weary Smoke Eaters team who plays on Thursday in Prince George, before coming to West Kelowna. The Saturday night battle will be a very big 4-point game at the Shaw Centre, but the Warriors need to be careful to not overlook Friday night.

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