(ISN) – VERNON, BC- The Interior Division Final will come down to a best-of-three after the Vernon Vipers picked up a 5-2 win over the Penticton Vees Wednesday night, in game four at Kal-Tire Place.
The Vipers, like the Vees, held serve on home ice, winning both games by 5-2 scores to come back from a 2-0 series deficit. The two teams will reconvene for a pivotal game five at the SOEC on Friday night.
Vipers Captain Riley Guenther broke a 2-2 tie seven-minutes into the third period, as he managed to muscle a bouncing puck over the goal-line. Hunter Miska stopped the first shot but Guenther was there to squeeze the puck inside the post at 7:19.
Liam Coughlin scored twice into the empty-net inside the final minute, as the Vees pulled the goalie in favour of an extra skater during a late power-play. Blaine Caton and Brandon Egli also scored for the Vipers.
Riley Alferd and Cody DePourcq scored for Penticton, as they lost back-to-back games for the first time all post-season. Hunter Miska was tagged with the loss after stopping 27 of 30 shots.
Danny Todosychuk stopped 27 of 28 shots steered his way in the Viper net, as he won his second consecutive start.
Alferd broke a scoreless tie just shy of the nine-minute mark of the first. Alferd flew down the right-wing and forced a backhand through Todosychuk at 8:44; his second of the post-season.
Blaine Caton equalized for Vernon, as he got just enough of the puck on a rebound to dribble it over the goalie and underneath Miska at 15:01; the original shot appeared to have hit a Vee skate.
Egli gave Vernon their first lead late in the opening frame on a power-play. The puck came back to Egli at the point and his one-timer found its way through along the ice at 18:21.
The Vees pushed the pace in the second period and were rewarded early with a tying goal. Steen Cooper spun a pass back to Cody DePourcq on the doorstep and he lifted the puck up and over a prone Todosychuk at 3:51; the Co-Captain’s first of the post-season.
The Vees then got into some penalty trouble late in the second but the penalty-kill stood tall, killing-off three straight Vernon power-plays, including a lengthy five-on-three.
In a back-and-forth third period, the Vees best chance to tie the game came off the stick of Dakota Conroy. On a Vees man-advantage, Conroy tracked a fluttering puck in front of the net but his swipe at it was padded off by the Viper goaltender at the last moment.
The Vees were given an opportunity to equalize inside the final minute of regulation when the Vipers Colton McCarthy was given a blow to the head penalty and a game misconduct. However, off the ensuing face-off, Coughlin tracked down a clearing attempt and potted the puck into an open net; his first of back-to-back empty-net goals.
Final Score: 5-2 Vernon
Shots: 32-28 Vernon
Power-Plays: Vees 0-8 Vernon 1-5
Three Stars: 1) Riley Guenther 2) Liam Coughlin 3) Cody DePourcq
The Vees look to continue the series trend of home ice dominance on Friday, March 20th, when they host Vernon in game five; puck drop is 7pm.