Penticton, BC: The Penticton Vees (35-11-2-3) battled back twice to make it a one-goal game, but the Vernon Vipers (35-13-1-4) scored the only goal of the third period en route to a 5-2 Penticton loss at home.
The Vipers opened the scoring halfway through the first period after a shot from the right-wing boards deflected up in the air and landed right in front of Adam Scheel. Niko Karamanis was in the right place at the right time and fired the puck over Scheel’s glove 9:51 into the period.
Early in the second the Vipers came out flying and pressured the Vees until Cameron Trott’s shot from the right circle went off Michael Campoli and barely over the goal line just 1:15 into the second.
The Vees answered back off a turnover in the Vipers zone. Massimo Rizzo intercepted a clearing attempt by the Vipers and centred for Cassidy Bowes in the slot. Bowes took the feed and fired a wrist shot through the legs of Ty Taylor with 9:20 to go in the period.
A few minutes later, Rizzo took a heavy hit from Shane Kelly in the neutral zone and Marcus Mitchell came to his defence. Despite giving up three inches and 20 pounds, Mitchell scored the takedown by landing one punch on Kelly which sent both players to the ice.
Mitchell was given the extra two minutes for instigating on the play, sending the Vipers to the power play. It took Vernon just 14 seconds on the man advantage as Michael Young took a one timer from the left circle that beat Scheel blocker side.
Less than a minute later the Vees found themselves on a power play, and Owen Sillinger walked out from the right wing corner before sliding a puck through the five hole of Taylor to cut the lead down to 3-2.
Vernon got the last laugh of the second when another bouncing puck ended up at the side of the Vees net for Derek Brown to chop it past an unsuspecting Scheel with under two minutes remaining in the second.
Sillinger was called for spearing in the dying seconds of the second, putting the Vees down a man for four minutes carried over into the third, but they killed it off successfully.
Vernon capped off the scoring as a clearing attempt by the Vees got deflected into the slot and Jesse Lansdell jumped on the rebound to make it 5-2 with 11:29 to go. The final shots ended 34-33 Vernon.
The Vees are still in first place in the league with the loss, as they’re tied with Vernon at 75 points but have two games in hand. Penticton now gets set for a home-and-home series against the Coquitlam Express (14-35-1-3) beginning Wednesday night at the SOEC.