The Vernon Vipers snapped a lengthy losing streak against the Penticton Vees Tuesday night and, in the process, got right back into their best-of-seven B.C. Hockey League playoff series.
Jagger Williamson’s goal at 12:03 of the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and lifted the Vipers to a 2-1 win over Penticton at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.
The Vees lead the seven-game series two games to one with Game 4 in Vernon Wednesday night.
The win snapped a 10-game Vipers losing streak against the Vees dating back to last year’s Interior Conference final, when Penticton won Games 6 and 7, then swept the six regular season games this year, and won the first two games of the series.
“That’s huge,” said Williamson of the win. “We stuck to a simple game plan, got pucks deep and used our body, that’s the kind of team we are and it paid off tonight.”
Williamson’s goal came off a fortuitous bounce off the end boards on a wide shot from the point by defenceman Mac Ferner. The puck went right to Williamson on the shortside and he put a backhand past Anthony Brodeur.
After a scoreless first period, the Vees dominated the middle frame, outshooting the Vipers 12-2 through the first five minutes, but it was Vernon who opened the scoring at 12:37 on a breakaway goal from Odeen Tufto.
Penticton fired 26 shots in the period at first star Andrew Shortridge in the Vipers net, but could not beat him until their 36th shot of the game 44 seconds into the third period when Scott Conway banked the puck off a prone Shortridge and the puck just got over the goal line.
The Vees outshot Vernon 44-28 on the night and also hit three goalposts on the evening.
Things got nasty between the two teams at the end of the game with Riley Brandt taking on an unidentified Vees player at the benches, and Vernon coach Mark Ferner ended up pulling a couple of his players out of the fray.
Penticton was not impressed with the Vipers’ excessive end-of-game celebration.
“They were just running around out there like they won the Stanley Cup,” said Conway. “We’re going to show them tomorrow why we’re the best team in the league, why we won 50 games this year. The boys are a little bit upset right now and we’ll come out harder than we did today.”
Brodeur appeared to hurt himself late in the game on a cross-ice pass attempt. However, as he was heading to the bench with 90 seconds left for the extra attacker, Tufto picked up the puck in the Vernon end, skated toward centre and shot at the empty net.
Brodeur sprinted toward the empty goal, dove and stopped the puck with his stick. He could be seen limping noticeably in the tunnel and as the team was heading to the bus outside after the game.
Both teams went 0-4 with the man advantage.