VERNON, BC-If losing is a Virus the Penticton Vees have the antidote. Nic Jones scored a pair of short-handed goals, as the Vees avoided back-to-back losses, in a 6-2 thumping of the Vernon Vipers in Game Four of their Interior Division Semi-Final.
The Vees now lead the best-of-seven series 3-1, with Game Five back in Penticton on Friday night.
Jones, Easton Brodzinski, Scott Conway and Tyson Jost scored in the win for the Vees, as they bounced back from a 2-1 loss in Game Three a night earlier. Zach Driscoll stopped 17 of 19 shots for his second win of the series and fourth this season against Vernon.
Steven Jandric and Hunter Zandee scored for the Vipers who face being eliminated by the Vees for the second straight post-season.
Conway broke a scoreless tie halfway through the first period but the yeoman’s work on the play belonged to Dante Fabbro. The Vees’ defenceman rushed the puck from one end to the other, before driving to the net from the goal-line. Fabbro was stopped but Conway popped in the rebound at 10:21 to put the visitors ahead; Conway’s fifth of the series.
Then the Vees turned things over to their penalty-kill to blow the game wide open. First, Nic Jones intercepted a lazy pass at the centre circle, broke in down the middle on a breakaway and deked out Andrew Shortridge for the short-handed goal at 12:28. The PK wasn’t done there, as Owen Sillinger got in on the act on the same Vernon power-play.
Sillinger blocked a point-shot that created a turnover over at the Vees’ blue-line. Sillinger raced down the puck in the neutral and found himself in alone on a breakaway. Sillinger picked the top corner over the goalie’s glove for his second of the series at 14:12; the goal was technically scored at even-strength, as the penalized Vee stepped out of the box as the shot went in.
Penticton padded their lead in the opening minute of the middle frame on Brodzinski’s first career playoff goal. The St. Cloud State University commit roofed a pass from behind the net, over the blocker of Shortridge 54-seconds into the period.
Vernon stopped the bleeding, somewhat, when Jandric got the home team on the scoreboard. Four-minutes into the frame, the Jandric got around the defenceman, before forcing a shot through the wickets of Zach Driscoll, after the Vees’ goalie tried the poke-check.
Penticton got that goal back and far from the conventional manner. On another penalty-kill, the Vees sent the puck down ice on a clearing attempt, which drew Shortridge out of his goal to play the puck. Shortridge bobbled the biscuit at the side of his net, watching it squirt out to Jones, who fired into an open net at 6:57; his fourth goal of the series.
The two teams traded third period goals, as it was Vernon scoring first in the frame but the Vees again manufacturing a response. First, Hunter Zandee capitalized on a rare turnover in the Vees zone. The Viper picked up the puck on the wall and snapped a shot over Driscoll’s glove 59-seconds in.
The Captain got that one back too for Penticton, as Jost restored the four-goal lead just shy of the five-minute mark. The puck came back to Fabbro at the point and the rear-guard hammered a slap-shot that was tipped in, waist-high, by Jost on top of the crease; Jost bagging his third goal of the first round.
Final Score: 6-2 Vees
Shots: 42-19 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 0-4 Vernon 0-7
Three Stars: 1) Nic Jones 2) Scott Conway 3) Steven Jandric