Vincenzo Marozzi put on a show in the first and third periods on Saturday to help his Spruce Grove Saints even the Doyle Cup series with a 3-2 win in Vernon.
The Edmonton native’s biggest save came with 56 seconds left in the contest as the Vipers pressed for the equalizer. Although harassed by a Saint defender, Patrick McGillis got a low shot away that a sprawled Marozzi stopped with his right pad.
In each of the first and third periods, the Vipers generated eight scoring chances, but Marozzi was superb, just as he was in games five and six of last year’s Doyle Cup matchup.
The only shot to beat him on the first period was Malcolm Lyles’s hard slapper from outside the blue line at 17:34. The high shot, which came during a largely ineffective Viper power play, seemed to handcuff Marozzi, as the puck went in off his left arm or shoulder.
The Saints started the game with vigour, winning the majority of puck battles in the first four minutes. However, the Vipers turned the tide after Brent Henke’s holding call at 4:29 and the home team out shot the visitors 14-5 in the opening 20 minutes.
The tide turned in the second period as the Saints fired 17 shots at Kirby Halcrow and allowed 12 on Marozzi. They scored twice to take a 2-1 lead into the final frame.
Just 48 seconds into the second, Bryce Van Brabant neutralized the Viper centre man during a faceoff in the Viper zone and Nicholas Bourgeois fired the loose puck under Halcrow’s stick.
Midway though the period, the Saints came close to a 2-1 lead when ex-Viper Brett Switzer’s high rocket glanced off the cross bar. However, Switzer was successful at 10:25 when he swooped in to poke in a loose puck during a Spruce Grove power play.
The man advantage had resulted from a strange call by referee Steve Papp, who had whistled John Knisley for high sticking after Knisley had been tackled in the Spruce Grove end. Papp drew the ire of the 2513 fans for his inconsistent decisions. He and fellow referee Jim Maniago ignored several obvious infractions while making marginal calls.
However, it would be unfair to Spruce Grove to attribute their win to shoddy officiating. The Saints checked very hard in this game, and Marozzi was in fine form.
An example of Spruce Grove’s persistent checking resulted in the eventual winning goal. Ryan Renz lugged the puck out of his end and tried one too many moves. Scott Allen dispossessed the Viper rearguard and went in to beat Halcrow with a perfect low shot to the far corner at 15:18 of the third period.
At 16:07, Patrick McGillis brought the Viper fans to their feet when he spun around in the Saints’ end and beat Marozzi with a high wrist shot. The goal was the culmination of persistent Viper pressure.
The Spruce Grove win means that the third game in the 2011 Doyle Cup will be played in Vernon at 7 pm Sunday. The remainder of the series will then play out in Spruce Grove, starting on Wednesday, April 20.