March 29, 2013, Penticton, BC (ISN) – There was a lot of hype and build-up before this series started and game one certainly didn’t disappoint. The Penticton Vees dug out of a two-goal hole and rallied for a 6-4 win over the West Kelowna Warriors Friday in game one of the Interior Conference Final.
Maybe it should come as no surprise that the two teams combined for 10 goals. West Kelowna and Penticton finished one-two respectively in goal-scoring this season.
Wade Murphy led the charge with a pair of goals and 10 Vees hit the score-sheet in the win. Louie Nanne, Sam Mellor and Brad McClure also had two point nights.
The Warriors jumped out to an early two-goal lead in the first three and a half minutes. Danny Gayle opened the scoring at 2:11 when he walked out from the corner and stuffed his own rebound past an outstretched Chad Katunar. Not even a minute and a half later, the Warriors Captain doubled the visitors lead.
Max French broke down the middle of the Vees zone, danced around the defender and then put a quick shot over the blocker of Katunar at 3:32. French showed great wheel on the play, as he started the rush in the neutral zone.
The Vees regrouped after the Warriors goal and cut the deficit in half on a power-play blast from Wade Murphy. The Vees leading scorer from the Regular Season, bagged his second goal in as many games with a rocket from the top of the left-circle. Murphy came off the left-wall and put a slap-shot over the glove of Tyler Briggs at 9:22.
The Vees continued to press and found the equalizer late in the frame off some great hustle from Louie Nanne. Bryan Sinz pumped a shot off from the point that Briggs fumbled, and before he could glove the puck Nanne poked it through his legs at 18:35; his second of the post-season.
The late first period rally carried over into the second, the Vees scored three straight and five unanswered dating back to the first.. Murphy gave the Vees their first lead early, when he tapped-in his second on a nice passing play. Moments after the Vees killed-off a penalty, Thomas Nitsche sprung Travis Blanleil down the left-wing. Blanleil then alertly centered the puck to a streaking Murphy, who found an opening on the far-side at 1:20.
Jedd Soleway scored his third in as many games when he surprised Tyler Briggs with his wrist-shot from just inside the blue-line. Soleway took a fed from Thomas Nitsche and beat Briggs over the right-shoulder from the deep-slot at 9:14; putting the Vees up by a pair.
The Vees kept it coming, as Ryan Gropp got in on the action, when he scored the Vees fifth goal just minutes after Soleway. Gropp forced the puck away from the defender in the slot, stick-handled into the left-circle and snuck a shot short-side on Briggs at 11:41; the Vees holding a three-goal through two periods.
Down three in the third period, the Warriors started to push back and were rewarded just past the eight-minute mark. David Pope was the beneficiary of a turnover at the side of the Vees goal. Off a face-off, Shawn Hochhausen intercepted a pass and dished the puck out to Pope between the circles. He quickly fired a shot over the glove of Chad Katunar to cut the deficit to two.
The Warriors Captain was at it again late in the game, as Max French jumped out of the penalty-box, and scored his second of the game on a partial breakaway. After serving a tripping call, French got out of the box and behind the Vees defenders. French raced in and slid a back-hand deke through Katunar’s legs at 18:04.
The Vees survived the late game push by the Warriors, which included some great defensive work when the Tribe had the extra-attacker out in the dying moments. Brad McClure sealed the win with his empty-net goal at 19:31 after some great defensive work between Rob Mann and Louie Nanne.
FINAL SCORE: 6-4 VEES
Shots: 29-27 Warriors
Power-Plays: Vees 1-6 Warriors 0-3
Three Stars: 1) Wade Murphy 2) Louie Nanne 3) Max French
The two teams go at it again for game two, tomorrow night at the SOEC; puck drop is 7pm. The Vees are looking to win their sixth-straight and fourth in a row on home-ice. Tickets are available at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC, or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com