After giving up the opening goal in the first game of the BCHL’s double round-robin series, it was all Penticton Vees over the Nanaimo Clippers Wednesday, in a 4-1 decision at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Cole Maier blasted a shot past Hunter Miska at 8:07 on a set up by Anthony Rinaldi when they capitalized on an opportunity created when Vees defenceman Mike Lee lost his footing in the defensive zone and lost Rinaldi. Rinaldi made his way behind the net and snuck the puck between Hunter Miska and the post and it slowly made its way in the high slot for Maier tee up while Miska couldn’t regain proper positioning. The Vees outshot the Clippers 11-7 in the opening period but couldn’t solve goalie Guillaume Decelles, who entered the third round with the best save percentage in the playoffs at .937.
The Vees got back on even terms when Dante Fabbro wired a shot high over Decelles shoulder. That got the crowd of 2,433 out of their seats. After that, Riley Alferd buried the winner, while Patrick Newell and Dakota Conroy pocketed the other goals.
“It wasn’t good enough for the full 60 minutes obviously,” said Clippers coach Mike Vandekamp, adding that he liked their start. “We didn’t stick with it long enough.”
Alferd’s winner came in the final three minutes of the second. Playing 4-on-4, with Maier and Conroy sitting in the penalty box, Alferd fired a shot on goal and jumped all over the rebound when he found a gap between Decelles and another defender and tucked the puck past the goalies right pad just inside the post.
“You have a lot more ice. I had it and the goalie couldn’t see so I took a shot and it was right there,” said Alferd. “I just kept going. There was plenty of room, plenty of time.”
In the final frame, Patrick Sexton took a pass from Tyson Jost just inside the blue line and fired a shot that squeaked through Decelles and went by the post. Skating by the net, Newell was able to bury it. The Vees got their final goal on the power play after Jacob Jackson, a San Jose Sharks draft pick, was assessed a goalie interference penalty for running Miska and was also given a game misconduct. Conroy beat Decelles after making it look like he was passing the puck and fired a wrist shot over the shoulder at 16:50. Decelles finished with 32 saves in the loss, while Miska made 27 saves.
When asked if running Miska was a way to get to the Vees, Vandekamp said not at all then didn’t comment further. Alferd said with the Vees having a goalie like they have, the Clippers have to try everything they can.
“Vernon tried to do it. West Kelowna tried to do it,” he said. “It doesn’t surprise me that they try and do it. We just have to hope that it will be called right. We can’t just stop playing our game and take penalties from that.”
Alferd added that the league said they would call that play “pretty tight” but he hasn’t really seen that. Harbinson said his goalie has been run about 10 times during the playoffs.
After a slow first period, Harbinson said his team was outstanding the rest of the game.
“We moved our feet, we attacked their net,” said Harbinson. “I thought we put pucks where we could get to them first. We didn’t let them play a lot of extended minutes in our own end.”
Vees D-man Miles Gendron, an Ottawa Senators draft pick racked up three assists. Gabe Bast, Jack Ramsey, Demico Hannoun and Connor Chartier also collected assists.
Jackson, who is eighth in playoff scoring with 12 points in 15 games, will miss the Clippers next game Friday in Nanaimo at Frank Crane Arena against the Chilliwack Chiefs as a result of the second goalie interference penalty. A second goalie interference penalty calls for an automatic suspension in the Junior A Supplement.
Between the three teams, the two with the best records in the third round will advance to the Fred Page Cup. On Sunday the Vees visit Chilliwack before returning home to play them again on Tuesday.