What a game it was on Friday Night at Kal Tire Place as the Vernon Vipers defeated the rival West Kelowna Warriors 5-3. The powerplay was effective, the team played extremely disciplined and took advantage of the Warriors lack of discipline.
It was a slow start for the Vipers as the Warriors came out hungry and took a lot of shots on the Viper goal. They were able to put that behind them and play a nice solid period. The Snakes would strike first as Ryan Renz scored his first of the season on the powerplay on a nice wrist shot through traffic. It was the third straight game the powerplay has clicked and was key with just a few minutes left in the period.
The ice really opened up in the second period as both teams had big chances. Brendan Persley was stopped a handful of times by Andy Desautels who didn't factor in the three stars, but very well could have been there with the number of outstanding saves. Those saves went a long way as the Warriors would tie the game up just past the seven minute mark as Jordan Masters would center a puck in front after a few whacks, the puck would find Masters again and he would slip it past a prone Todosychuk. The Vipers regained the lead just 94 seconds later as Josh Bryan would let loose a rocket that eluded Desautels. Vernon continued forward as a great individual effort from Michael McNicholas resulted in a 3-1 lead. The two goal lead wasn't around for long as Seb Lloyd tipped in a Michael Winnitoy point shot to make it 3-2 after 2 periods.
A late penalty against the Warriors meant the Vipers would start the frame with the man advantage and they would strike immediately as Liam Coughlin ripped a shot past the Warrior goalie. The Warriors responded less than a minute later as Carl Hesler snapped a shot past Todosychuk off a well executed 3 on 1 rush. Discipline would catch up with the Warriors and again the Viper powerplay connected with Michael McNicholas scoring his second of the game and getting his 4th point of the night. Penalties ruined West K's ability to get much going as they tried to chip away at the two goal deficit and the game would end 5-3 Vipers.
My 3 Key Thoughts
1) - Finally!!! - The powerplay scored 3 times on 7 opportunities and looked very confident. The powerplay was the difference in this game for the right reasons. They kept it simple when necessary and threw in some nifty passing plays as well.
2) - Andy Desautels - Wow was he ever good tonight. The box score won't do that young man any justice as he made at least a quarter of his saves in spectacular fashion. He robbed Brendan Persley five times and could've easily been awarded a star.
3) - Warriors Hurting - When a team is as banged up as the Warriors are you have to take advantage of it. Some defensive mistakes really cost the Tribe. As the bodies start to return I fully expect the Warriors to tighten up.
The Vipers played well for the first game of parents weekend and will look to carry that into tomorrow's game against Prince George. Vernon is now tied with Merritt for top spot in the very tight Interior Division and look to stay there throughout the weekend. Saturdays game will be on 107.5 KissFM starting at 6:45!