Breckenridge Vipers defeat rival Vail Yeti 5-2 |

Breckenridge Vipers defeat rival Vail Yeti 5-2

Vipers forward Josh Gionfriddo (16) scores a goal in the second period against the Utah Blizzard during the season opener at Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge on Nov. 8, 2019.
Liz Copan/For Summit Daily News

The Breckenridge Vipers hosted the Vail Yeti at Stephen C. West Arena Friday, Dec. 17, as part of the team’s two-game rivalry series. The Vipers played at home Friday and then will travel to Vail to play the Yeti again on Saturday, Dec. 18, at 7:50 p.m.

The Vipers are Breckenridge’s semi-professional, Senior A Class hockey team that boasts a handful of local talent.This will be the Vipers’ third home game of the season and the last one before the new year.

From the first puck drop, the game was fast paced as both teams took shots on the net and exchanged hits. The Vipers started to dominate in their offensive zone once the Vipers found their groove, firing off shots left and right.

It wasn’t long before one found the back of the net as Josh Gionfriddo fired a shot past the Yeti goalie to put the Vipers up 1-0. Then 14 minutes into the opening period, Chad Helfer upped the score to have the Vipers up 2-0.

Nate Defrenzo scored approximately 20 seconds later, and then Sean Costello joined the scoring party to make the score 4-0 heading into the locker room for the first intermission.

“A rivalry game like that, it is easy to get excited,” goaltender J.R. Engelbert said. “They went hard at work on the forecheck to create opportunities and turnovers, which led to us scoring.”

The Yeti came out of the first intermission ready to punch back. They put their first goal away five minutes into the second period to make the score 4-1. The Yeti scored again on the power play after Helfer got two minutes for delay of game, making it 4-2.

The rest of the second period was filled with back and forth play as both teams spent ample time in each other’s offensive zones, but neither team got it past the other’s goaltender.

But six minutes into the third period, Sean Costello was able to feed Luke Noble a pass inside to go up 5-2, and the sold-out arena erupted in cheers. The Vipers won with goaltender Engelbert recording 43 saves off of 45 shots on goal.

“All credit to them,” Engelbert said of the Yeti. “They were able to slow down the game and capitalize on some penalties in the second period.”

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