For the second time in a 8 days the Vernon Vipers were able to edge out the Penticton Vees by a goal. Last weekend a 2-1 victory and on Saturday a 4-3 victory. They were completely different games but had similar results.
The Vipers would strike early off a very fortunate bounce off the end glass that propelled right in front of the net where Ryan Renz would bury it for a 1-0 lead after just 81 seconds. After some push back from the Vees another rush up the ice found Brendan Persley with a look from the bottom of the circle and he fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of Olivier Mantha to make it 2-0 through 6 minutes. Five minutes later another rush led by Persley would result in a rebound for Josh Bryan and he would slide it home for a 3-0 Viper lead. That would spell the end of the night for Olivier Mantha, although he would say he wasn't good enough, I didn't think he could necessarily do much about two of the three. Late in the period Ryan Renz would be penalized for a double minor for high sticking that would have a big impact on the second period.
With an extended powerplay the Vees number 1 ranked PP would go to work quickly as a nice backdoor feed from Brett Beauvais would be tipped in by Brad McClure and the Vees were on the board. 70 seconds later a mad scramble at the side of the goal would be knocked in by Shane McColgan to get the Vees within 1 just 2 minutes into the period. Once it got to 5 on 5, I thought the Vipers did a nice job of settling down and panicking as their deficit had been dwindled. The Vipers got through the radio time out up by a goal then added one off a goal post and a rebound as TJ Dumonceaux scored to make it 4-2 after 2 periods.
The Vees took over time of possession in the third, down by 2 and pushed hard for the equalizer. They started in the right direction as Nic Pierog knocked in a centering pass from Cody DePourcq to get the Vees within 1 with plenty of time on the clock. Once again though, the Vipers managed the clock well in the final 14 minutes kept Penticton to the outside and most importantly stayed out of the penalty box with one exception that they killed off. The final seconds would tick away and the Vipers would hold on for a 4-3 victory.
My 3 Key Thoughts
1) – Capitalizing on Chances – The Vipers took full advantage of some fortunate bounces. At the fore front was the ricochet off the glass behind the Penticton goal that found its way to the front of the net for Renz\s tally. Now I've called all but 1 home game for the Vipers this season and never seen a bounce like that at all. Its never been a factor before and doubtful it will again, but Lady Luck was on the side of the Vipers early and they took advantage of the momentum gained by that first goal. Some would compare that bounce to the one the Vees got early in the game last Friday when it went in off the glove off Guenther and in. Sometimes you get the bounces and sometimes you don't, such is junior hockey.
2) – Banged Up – The Vipers roster has had a different look of late with a few bodies out of the lineup. The one constant has been the effort level. Some players are getting more ice time with those injuries and are taking full advantage of it. The likes of Povelofskie, Persley and Saharchuk were very solid and the versatility of Statchuk continues to impress as he jumps from defense to offense whenever asked. With Liam Coughlin expected to return to the lineup and Hannoun and Guenther still up in the air, the Vipers depth has been tested and so far has passed with flying colours.
3) – Ending On a Positive – Home ice has been a key reason to the Vipers success this season. With 17 wins and only 6 games where they didn't get at least one point, Kal Tire Place was a slump buster. At points when the Vipers struggled on the road, they would make up for it with great efforts at home. Its a hard place to play and the fans helped make it that way. With playoff positioning still up in the air, the home games the Vipers will play will be most important.
The Vipers will now finish their regular season with 2 games on the road, starting Wednesday in Trail. All the action is on 107.5 KissFM starting at 7:15 with the pregame show.