PENTICTON, BC-You can’t fault the Penticton Vees if they have a feeling of deja vu after tonight. Just like a year ago against Vernon, the Vees have been pushed to the brink after a 2-1 loss to West Kelowna, in game five of the Interior Final Friday at the SOEC.
The Warriors now lead the best-of-seven series 3-2, with game six back at Royal LePage Place Saturday night.
Tied 1-1 late in the third, Warriors defenceman Rylan Yaremko’s scored the game-winner on what looked to be a routine play. The puck came back to Yaremko, who fired a wrist-shot towards the net that bounced off the top of Zach Driscoll’s glove, then off the cross-bar, and in with just over four-minutes on the clock.
Yaremko’s second-career playoff goal turned out to be the difference, as the Warriors won their third straight, and are one win away from their first Interior Division title.
It was a great start for the Vees, capped off by Nic Jones snapping a lengthy goal drought to open the scoring midway through the second. Jones got the capacity crowd rocking, when tipped in a shot from out front. Just after a Vees’ power-play expired, Luke Voltin fired the puck back to the point to Dante Fabbro, whose quick shot was redirected by Jones at 8:49; his seventh of the post-season and second of the series.
That goal by Jones was the Vees’ first in just over 136-minutes dating back to the first period of game three.
West Kelowna clawed back in the third, equalizing early in the period after an odd-man rush. After the Vees were stopped at the other end, the Warriors came back the other way with numbers and capitalized. Nick Rutigliano pushed a centering pass through Driscoll’s legs and just across the line at 6:38.
Down 2-1 late, Penticton pulled the goalie for the extra skater and one of their best chances came inside the final minute. With 48-seconds left, the puck came to the middle but Tyson Jost’s shot was blocked by two diving defenders and smothered.
FINAL SCORE: 2-1 West Kelowna
Shots: 33-19 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 0-2 West Kelowna 0-2
Three Stars: 1) Rylan Yaremko 2) Matt Greenfield 3) Nichols Jones
Penticton can draw on previous experiences ahead of game six Saturday. In the last two seasons, the Vees were down 3-2 in the Interior Final but won twice on the road to force a game seven back in Penticton.
Game six is set for 7pm from West Kelowna tomorrow night, and fans can tune in on EZ Rock AM 800, or they can watch online at www.fasthockey.com