Vipers sting Warriors in Interior battle
Courtesy of Jon Zacks
The Vernon Vipers edged the Warriors 3-1 on Wednesday, in another tightly-contested match-up between divisional rivals.
Scoreless after a frictional opening period, Vernon’s Demico Hannoun opened the scoring with a lovely solo effort midway through the second.
The Vipers added a power-play marker when Mason Blacklock tipped a puck through the legs of Andy Desautels early in the third.
The two-goal lead would prove insurmountable, as the Warriors outshot their hosts 38-28 but were unable to create enough grade ‘A’ chances to extend Vipers netminder Austin Smith.
Michael McNicholas would add an empty-netter to seal Vernon’s victory inside the final minute. However, a Jason Cotton power-play tally with 21 seconds remaining put the Warriors on the scoreboard and ruined Smith’s shutout bid.
“I thought we played good tonight” West Kelowna forward Tyson Dallman suggested afterwards.
“It was tough to see it go that way” he says, adding “we just have to capitalize on some more chances and I think it could have gone our way.”
Defensively, the alternate captain feels his team played fairly resilient hockey, allowing just one even-strength goal and one power-play marker as well as an empty-netter.
“We gave up too many odd-man rushes, but we kept the puck out of our net for the most part.”
Offensively, however, while Dallman knows that Kal Tire Place is a notoriously tough place to score (and win), he feels his team may have allowed a few early chances to get away.
“We just have to keep it a little more simple” Dallman insists.
“For the first half of the game we were trying to play a little fancy. We all know that never works” Dallman says.
“We just had to get pucks more to the net, and get traffic there and bang away. We started to do that in the later part of the game, but it was too little too late.”
West Kelowna remains in a tie for fourth in the division, though the Warriors have two games in hand on Merritt.
The defeat in Vernon ends a three-game winning streak, but also highlights a trend that has seen the Warriors earn just one win in their past ten outings in Vernon.
“I think the guys need to get that off their shoulders” Dallman admits.
A similar theme also permeates West Kelowna’s upcoming weekend, with the Warriors set to take on Penticton in a home-and-home series before the Christmas break begins.
West Kelowna has just one regular-season win over the Vees in the past three seasons, and lost to the Vees in five hard-fought games in the Interior Conference finals last year.
“It’s huge” Dallman knows. “I think we need to win both of those games.”
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