The West Kelowna Warriors gave a solid effort but could not get any goal scoring as the Vernon Vipers picked up a 2-1 win on the road at Royal LePage Place on Friday night.
Game photos come courtesy of the birthday boy, Ken Reid of Greystoke Photography:
1) GOOD EFFORT BUT OFFENSE FALLS SHORT
The Warriors put in a good effort in what I thought was a pretty well played hockey games from two very good teams. Special teams was yet again not a favourite of the Warriors who went 0/5 on the man advantage and 1/3 on the penalty kill. There were some opportunities in the final period of play, including a four-minute power play after Jesse Lansdell chopped the stick of Stephen Kleysen in half before being assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty but the Warriors could not capitalize on the golden opportunity. The first period of this game was very entertaining despite no score as both teams can skate well and that was displayed in a strong opening frame of hockey. The 2nd period, where all the scoring occurred, started out well for the Vipers with a Brett Stapley goal through some heavy traffic in front of the goal. Stapley was at it again around the 16:00 mark with a tip-in of a Jimmy Lambert slot shot that made the game 2-0 in favour of the visitors. A fantastic solo effort from Quin Foreman got the game within one in the dying stages of period number two. Then the 3rd period came along and despite pulling Cole Demers with 2:16 remaining in regulation, and possibly the best chance to score stemming off of that ensuing offensive zone face-off, the Warriors couldn’t find the equalizer to tie the game up and fell by a goal. A very solid effort from both teams in this one that saw the Vipers come away with their 3rd win of the season series.
2) CLOSELY MATCHED OPPONENTS
The Warriors and Vipers do not differ much when it comes to how they play and the style in which they want to execute. Evidence of this was Friday night’s contest with only one goal separating the two rivals and scoring only occurring in one of the three periods. Give credit to the Vipers on this night as they came out and played a terrific road game and relied upon their 19-year-old goaltender Darion Hanson to make some key saves, including a big stop in the 1st period on Parm Dhaliwal on a partial breakaway to keep the game scoreless at the time, one of his 33 saves on the night. Brett Stapley had the only scoring on the night and was outstanding in the face-off circle, winning many key draws. The Vipers blocked a boat load of shots and helping that on the back end was Cooper Watson and Connor Clouston, a pair of big bodied defensemen who I thought had a very good night in their own zone. Vernon attacked on the power play with their two goals and had a solid penalty kill on the night. So as much as this game could’ve been about the Warriors being unable to find the back of the net, you have to give credit to the visiting Vipers who came in and played a strong game and were worthy of the two points, as either team was on this night in my belief. Head coach of the Warriors Rylan Ferster stated post game that the coaching staff had the scoring chances at 8-7 in favour of the Warriors and really, the game could’ve gone either way. Can’t fault the effort shown from the Warriors tonight but a bounce or two would’ve helped them in what was a playoff-like atmosphere at RLP tonight and a fantastic game that fans were treated to.
My takeaways from Friday night’s 2-1 loss for the Warriors against the Vernon Vipers were that the game was very evenly played by two very good teams and the Vipers took advantage of the chances they had, specifically on the power play, that carried them onto victory. If the Warriors, not to get into hypotheticals here, were able to bury one of the power play in the 3rd period, we could be talking about a completely different game that the Warriors might have been on the wining end of. But it’s another one-goal loss for the Warriors whose record falls to 22-19-0-1 and face a very tough test over the next couple of weeks as they head to Penticton on Saturday to play the Vees before journeying out on a three-game road trip that sees stops in Victoria, Powell River and Chilliwack who are all playing terrific hockey and will provide a stiff test for the Warriors. Puck drop Saturday night is 6:00 PM from the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton with the pre-game show going at 5:50 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and hockeytv.com