Danny Todosychuk’s job description requires he be ready to go at a moment’s notice. That’s the nature of a backup goaltender.
With Vernon Vipers’ starter Kirby Halcrow suffering flu-like symptoms, Todosychuk learned just before warmup that he would start Wednesday night’s B.C. Hockey League tilt against the Westside Warriors.
The 16-year-old Vernon native responded with a 25-save, first star performance and his first-ever BCHL shutout as the Vipers iced the Warriors 2-0 before 1,334 fans at Wesbild Centre.
“I can’t take all the credit; the boys stepped up and the d-men played really well,” said Todosychuk. “There were a few turnovers here and there, but that’s the way it goes. There are no perfect games out there.”
Added Vernon head coach Jason Williamson: “That’s a backup; they’ve got to be ready from the get-go and when he had to be good, he was great.
“Playoff-style game, and that’s the way it’s going to be with four teams making the playoffs. Down the road, we don’t want these two points to haunt us.”
Todosychuk and Warriors’ netminder Steve Racine had to be sharp as both teams dutifully stuck to their systems in a tight-checking game, making the few scoring chances that did occur all the more crucial.
Todosychuk recorded the save of the night when he lunged cross-crease to deny Garrett Skrbich on a 2-on-1 midway through the second period. Shortly after, he stopped Brett McKinnon on his doorstep and then got a little help from Vernon d-man Geoff Crisfield to clear the loose puck.
“You just follow the puck as best you can. You don’t want to guess too much, but obviously there’s always a little bit of anticipation,” said Todosychuk, who was probably the happiest guy in the rink when Vernon’s Darren Nowick opened the scoring on a 5-on-3 earlier in the second period.
“That was definitely a big load off my shoulders. That was a good look by Renzy (defenceman Ryan Renz) and he just put it down low and Nowick got a good stick on it. We had most of the pressure anyway, so it was about time we finally put one in there,” smiled Todosychuk.
Viper captain Patrick McGillis relieved the pressure with an empty-netter with 24 seconds to play.
The Vipers, tied with the Powell River Kings for first overall at 5-0, entertain the relaunched Chilliwack Chiefs (2-0) tonight at Wesbild. They visit the Merritt Centennials Saturday at Nicola Valley Arena.
The 4-2 Warriors are tied for second in the Interior Conference with the 4-1 Penticton Vees. Both of Westside’s losses have come against Vernon.
“You don’t like to see a game decided that way, but full marks to them. I thought they played better than us and we didn’t score a goal,” said Westside head coach Rylan Ferster.
“I don’t want to say we let one slip away tonight because it’s Vernon, but we came in here and gave just a good enough effort. We didn’t have that little extra that you’re going to need to beat Vernon.”
Michael King, a towering Warriors’ blueliner who logged nearly as many minutes as the goalies, was perhaps Westside’s steadiest player Wednesday night. Now in his second year, he relishes lining up against top BCHL teams.
“It’s just the name behind it – Vernon Vipers. You always want to play against that name and get a win against them. The crowd was quiet but it’s not hard to get up for these games,” said King, who is headed to Colorado College next season.
“Sometimes we weren’t sticking to our systems. We were letting them tear us down bit by bit and I think it got to us.”
In a game that was lacking emotion, Crisfield jolted the crowd with a spirited third-period scrap against the Warriors’ Shawn Hauchhausen. The two combatants began trading blows, but Crisfield snapped Hochhausen’s head back with two or three stiff shots, wobbling his opponent to earn the decision.
The altercation was likely a carry over from the Vipers’ Friday-night tilt in Westside, where Crisfield got mixed up with McKinnon in the dying seconds.
Crisfield inks with Fighting Sioux
Crisfield, who attended the recent Team Canada West evaluation camp for the upcoming World Junior A Challenge, committed to the NCAA Division 1 North Dakota Fighting Sioux Wednesday.
The 18-year-old went on a fly-down to the Grand Forks campus last spring, but only started talking with the coaches in the last week.
“They kept slight tabs on me over the summer and then sent a couple guys out to watch me this fall and they liked what they saw,” said Crisfield.
“There were a few others (schools), but nothing really serious. It’s still pretty early in the season so it’s not something I was expecting so quick. It’s nice to have it out of the way and get on with the season. It’s a bit of a shock, but it’s a good feeling.”
SNAKE BITES: The Vipers will unveil their new retro jerseys tonight against the Chiefs. The new design pays homage to the Vernon Lakers…Former Viper defenceman Adam Thompson left the Yale Bulldogs for personal reasons.