PENTICTON, BC –For the second straight game, the Penticton Vees found themselves in a three-goal hole but unlike Wednesday night back in Penticton, they weren’t able to come back, losing 3-1 to the Vernon Vipers Friday at Kal-Tire Place.
Steven Jandric scored twice for Vernon and Austin Adamson scored the other Vipers’ goal, as they picked up their first home win since December 29th. Dario Hansen was very sound in net, stopping 33 of 34 shots for his first win against the Vees in his third try.
Grant Cruikshank scored the Vees’ lone goal, on a power-play late in the third, as they lost for the first time in Vernon in the regular season in over two seasons. Mat Robson was admirable in defeat, kicking out 31 of 34 shots as he was tagged with the loss.
It was another tight-checking first period Friday, as both teams held each other in check for the most part. Vernon finally broke the scoreless deadlock inside the final minute of the opening frame. Brett Stapley fired a shot from the wing that was kicked-out but the puck went right to Steven Jandric who quickly potted the rebound at 19:03.
The Vees were inches from tying the game early in the second on a power-play. Duncan Campbell walked into the right-wing circle but his shot hit the cross-bar on the far-side and stayed out. That near-miss loomed large as the Vipers doubled their lead not long after.
Just over a minute after that Vees’ power-play expired, Jandric scored his second to put the home side up 2-0. Cameron Trott’s point-shot was knocked down in front but the puck squirted over to Jandric who forced the rebound between a fallen Robson and the post at 3:15.
The Vipers padded their lead late in the second, as they benefited from a hometown bounce in the Vees’ end. Luke Gingras tried to fire the puck to the net but it hit a Vees stick, sending it skipping towards the slot. Austin Adamson timed the bounce perfectly, spinning and firing the puck off the post and in past an outstretched Robson at 17:11.
Penticton got onto the scoresheet late in the third on their fifth and final power-play of the night. Grant Cruikshank cranked a point-shot from the blue-line that nicked-off the post and past Hanson with two and a half minutes left; Cruikshank’s team-leading 28th.
However, the Vees ran into late penalty trouble that squashed any chance of a dramatic late comeback attempt.
Final Score: 3-1 Vernon
Power-Plays: Vees 1-5 Vipers 0-5
Three Stars: 1) Steven Jandric 2) Darion Hansen 3) Brett Stapley
Vees Notes: Friday was the Vees’ first regular season loss in Vernon in nine games. The Vipers last home win against Penticton before Friday came on February 22nd, 2014. Friday was also the Vees fifth consecutive road loss, as their last win away from the SOEC came back on November 22nd, in West Kelowna. Gabe Bast (injured) James Miller (injured), Ryley Risling (suspended) and Greg Brydon did not dress. The two teams split the seven-game season series, with each winning three times and tying once.
The Vees (32-11-1-1) are back out on the road Saturday, when they travel to the Kootenays to face the Trail Smoke Eaters (22-21-0-4) at Cominco Arena; face-off is 7 pm. Trail didn’t play Friday and are coming off a win over Merritt Wednesday.