PENTICTON, BC-The Penticton Vees came up just short in their series opener to the Vernon Vipers, dropping a 3-2 decision in Game One of the Interior Division Final Friday in front of 3,118 fans at the SOEC.
Vernon’s Austin Adamson scored the game-winner, just 1:45 into the third period, after the Vees’ had a bad bounce go against them. Mitch Meek’s reverse along the wall caught the skate of the referee and came right to Jesse Lansdell, who set up Adamson out front for the tap-in.
The finish didn’t lack any drama, as Nicholas Jones had a potential game-tying goal called off with just 34-seconds left after the referee deemed it to be a high stick.
Steven Jandric and Cameron Trott also scored for Vernon and Darion Hansen stopped 36 shots for first star honours, as the Vipers take a 1-0 series lead going into Game Two Saturday night at the SOEC.
Gabe Bast and Taylor Ward scored for Penticton and Mat Robson stopped 21 shots in a losing effort.
Vernon broke the ice just before the four-minute mark, as Jandric came down the left-wing, curled around the net and tucked a wraparound on the far side between Robson’s legs at 3:44.
Penticton tied it just past the eight-minute mark after Gabe Bast wired a shot from the right-circle over Hansen’s glove. Bast had his original shot blocked but made a move in the circle before firing the rebound upstairs at 8:09; Bast scoring his third of the playoffs.
The Vipers bounced back and retook the lead on their first power-play midway through the opening frame. Cameron Trott pounded a one-time from the left-wing over Robson’s glove for his first of the post-season at 11:36.
Before that go-ahead goal from Trott, the Vees had an opportunity on the power-play to break the 1-1 deadlock but were unable to cash in.
Early in the second, Taylor Ward had a chance to tie the game on a nice power-move coming down the left-wing but his backhand attempt was kicked-out by the Vernon goalie. However, Ward would get a measure of revenge not long after.
On the Vees second power-play of the game, Ward fired a low shot from the wall on the right side that he managed to put through Hansen’s pads at 5:46; Ward’s third tying the game 2-2 early in the second.
The game-winner for Vernon came inside the first two-minutes of the third period. Meek went to reverse the puck up the nearside but his rim around the boards made contact with the referee. The puck then settled for Vernon’s Lansdell, who took it back around the goal and centered for Adamson on the doorstep who was staring at an open net; Adamson burring his second of the playoffs at 1:45.
The Vees did dodge a bullet when Brett Stapley fired a shot from the circle off the cross-bar with just over five-minutes left, and the near-miss gave them a chance late.
Penticton pushed and had a great opportunity inside the final-minute, after Vernon took a penalty. The Vees already had the goalie pulled, before Cooper Watson put the lumber to Taylor Sanheim’s back. The Vees power-play created a six-on-four advantage for the final 58-seconds.
Their best look came when Jones, from his knees, at the top of the crease appeared to bat the puck in with 34-seconds remaining. However, the referee in the corner immediately waved it off, signaling a high stick. After a discussion among the four officials back at center, the call stood.
The Vees had one last ditch effort as the seconds were ticking down but Bast couldn’t fire a rebound up and over a crowd in front, which included Hanson sprawled out on his side.
Final Score: 3-2 Vernon
Shots: 38-24 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 1-3 Vernon 1-3
Three Stars: 1) Darion Hansen 2) Gabe Bast 3) Steven Jandric
Notes: Including the regular season, the Vipers have picked up two wins and tie in their last three games at the SOEC, dating back to January 7th. Chris Klack had his seven-game point streak come to end in the loss. Taylor Ward now has four goals and seven points in eight games against Vernon this season.
The Vees look to tie the series and get a weekend split tomorrow, Saturday, April 1st, in Game Two against Vernon; puck drop is 6 pm.