PENTICTON, BC-The Penticton Vees took care of business on home ice to start their series against the Vernon Vipers, picking up a hard-fought 3-2 win in Game Two, and in the process, took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Interior Division Semi-Final.
Nic Jones scored the game-winner, halfway through the second and then held off a late Vernon push in the third, to hold serve at the SOEC.
Jones, Scott Conway and Tyson Jost scored for the Vees and Zach Driscoll stopped 22 of 24 shots for his first playoff win. Hunter Zandee and Odeen Tufto replied for the Vipers, who find themselves down a pair of games against Penticton for the second straight post-season.
Conway opened the Vees’ scoring account for the second straight game, as he bagged his third of the post-season 90-seconds into the first. After Vernon was handed a penalty on the opening shift, the Vees power-play went to work. Conway scored on the doorstep at 1:29 after both Jones and Easton Brodzinski were stopped in tight by Andrew Shortridge.
The Vipers ran into more penalty trouble midway through the opening frame and again the Vees power-play made them pay. Conway took a drop pass and from the slot, fired a wrist-shot that Tyson Jost got a piece of out front at 13:24; the Captain scoring in his 10th straight game. The goal was originally credited to Conway but changed post-game upon video review.
Vernon got on the score sheet late in the first, forcing a turnover in behind the Vees’ net. Nic Rasovic centered for Hunter Zandee and he beat Driscoll on the blocker-side at 17:22.
Penticton restored their lead midway through the middle stanza, after a great shift by Jones, Mitch Brooks and Luke Voltin. Brooks and Voltin did the dirty work behind the net, freeing up the puck for Jones, who spun out front and beat Shortridge over the blocker with a backhand at 10:08; Jones’ second in as many games.
Vernon closed the gap in the third period when Tufto scored off rebound eight-minutes in. Mitch Oliver had his point-shot go off of Driscoll’s shoulder but the fluttering puck bounced down to Tufto, who tapped it in at the side of the net at 8:17.
Vernon, with the net empty, pressed for an equalizer inside the final two-minutes of the game but the Vees withstood the pressure, including Dante Fabbro diving out to block a shot right as time expired.
Final Score: 3-2 Vees
Shots: 39-24 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 2-4 Vernon 0-3
Three Stars: 1) Nic Jones 2) Scott Conway 3) Andrew Shortridge
If you include the regular season, Scott Conway now has points in 25 straight games; Jost extending his point streak to 18. Driscoll now has won all three of his starts this season against Vernon and has stopped all but two of the 78 shots he’s faced in those three games. After two games Penticton has scored four power-play goals on nine chances; 13 in eight games against Vernon this season.
The Vees look for a commanding 3-0 series lead Tuesday, March 8th, at Kal-Tire Place in Vernon; face-off is 7 pm. Fans can listen to the game on EZ Rock AM 800, or they can watch online at www.fasthockey.com