March 9, Vernon, BC (ISN) – Colton Sparrow spoiled the comeback bid for the Penticton Vees, as the Vernon Vipers scored a 3-2 win Friday at the Wesbild Centre.
Sparrow scored the game-winner with just twenty-seven seconds left in the third period, robbing the Vees of at least a single point.
The win was just the Vipers second in seven games this season against the Vees and first on home ice since November of the 2011. The loss complicates the Vees chances of finishing first overall in the BCHL, as Surrey won Friday in Coquitlam, leaving the Vees two points back of the Eagles in the pennant race with just one game left.
Colton Sparrow played hero in the dying seconds of regulation when he finished off a cross-crease pass at the near-post; his shot beating Chad Katunar up high at 19:33. Sparrow was setup by Brendan Persley who dished the puck out front from the right-wing.
The Vees came all the way back from an early two-goal first period deficit and tied the game midway through the third. John Siemer brought the Vees back on even terms when he jammed in a loose puck past Austin Smith at the near post; Siemer picking up his 24th at 11:23.
The only other scoring was done back in the opening period, as the two teams combined for three goals. Vernon got out ahead on two goals from Mitch McAllister inside the first eight minutes.
McAllister opened the scoring on a tic-tac-toe passing play at the top of the crease at 4:48. The Vees turned the puck over just outside their blue-line and the Vipers made the most of the opportunity. Michael Roberts setup McAllister from the right-circle to give the home team the lead.
McAllister wasn’t down there, as he doubled the Vipers lead less than three minutes later. Craig Martin was first to a loose puck in the Vees corner and found a streaking McAllister in the slot. The Viper forward let go a quick shot that just squeaked through the legs of Chad Katunar at 7:33.
Brad McClure cut the Vipers deficit in half with a late marker in the first. Right off a face-off in the Vipers end, Troy Stecher found Brad McClure in the slot and he wired a wrist-shot over the arm of Austin Smith at 18:10; McClure’s team leading 28th and second in as many games.
FINAL SCORE: 3-2 Vipers
Shots: 36-28 Vees
Power-Play: Vees 0-1 Vipers: 0-0
Three Stars: 1) Mitch McAllister 2) Colton Sparrow 3) John Siemer
The loss keeps the Vees at 75 points, two back of the Surrey Eagles, who won 8-1 in Coquitlam on Friday. In order for the Vees to capture the BCHL regular season pennant, they need both Surrey and Victoria to lose Saturday, and would need to win in Trail on Sunday.
The Vees record drops to 35-15-0-5 and they finish with a 5-2-0 record against the Vipers this season. Their record versus the Interior Division drops to 21-10-0-3.
The Vees wrap up the regular season in Trail on Sunday afternoon; puck drop is 3pm. The Smoke Eaters were eliminated from post-season contention after Salmon Arm won 5-4 in overtime in Merritt on Friday. That means the Vees open up the 2013 Fred Page Cup playoffs at home against Salmon Arm next Friday, March 15th at the SOEC. Playoff ticket packages are available at the Valley First box office at the SOEC.