The Penticton Vees made the Vernon Vipers pay for their undisciplined play.
The Vees went three-for-nine on the man advantage to pound the Vipers 5-0 and win their BCHL Interior Division series, 4-1.
“They came out hard. We were able to capitalize on the mistake there,” said Vees goalie Zachary Driscoll, who earned his first playoff shutout with a 26-save effort. “Take a penalty and we’re going to jump on that.”
Nicholas Jones, who hurt the Vipers on the penalty kill in Game 4 with two shorthanded goals, put the only necessary dagger into the Vipers 1:16 in the game. Jones was able to bag his fifth goal of the playoffs after pouncing on a rebound at the side of the net from an Easton Brodzinski shot. Dante Fabbro also collected an assist.
“We came out ready tonight,” said Driscoll. “I think any time we can get the first goal at home it’s a huge advantage to us. We were able to build a lot of momentum out of it.”
The opening period was filled with penalties as both teams took three apiece. After trailing in the shot count in the opening frame, the Vipers caught up and had some of their best scoring chances late. The first by Jimmy Lambert, who put a backhand shot just wide of the net. Bo Pellah then had another chance, but missed the goal. Then Liam Finlay had a great opportunity but was robbed by Driscoll’s left pad at 7:24.
While it was physicality that got the Vipers in trouble, Demico Hannoun showed you can throw big hits and not be sent to the box. He dished out what was likely the biggest hit as he laid out Pellah behind the Vipers goal. The Viper needed some time to get back up.
The Vees put the game away in the second frame with four goals in the opening 10 minutes. A minute into the frame, Scott Conway and Owen Sillinger set up Mitchell Brooks, who was parked just outside the Vipers crease and ripped a shot top corner past Andrew Shortridge’s glove. Later on, a line with Conway and Tyson Jost buzzed the Vipers goal peppering shots. Brodzinski got his first of two on the night when he beat Shortridge blocker side to make it 3-0. The Vipers called a timeout to try and regroup. Less than three minutes after Brodzinski’s tally, while on the power play, Fabbro made Sedin-like slap pass to find Jost near the side of the crease and the captain redirected it past Shortridge. Three minutes later, Brodzinski got his second of the night on a lucky bounce that got past the Vipers goalie, who finished with 27 saves.
“I think it started with the discipline. They got very undisciplined,” said Conway, who had a three assist night. “It’s pretty hard to stop our power play unit, how we’re clicking and the guys on it. I think that’s what dictated that game.”
The Vees penalty kill was perfect in killing off all five Vernon power plays.
Vipers captain Colton McCarthy said after having a good start, they came out flat in the second period.
“Took some dumb penalties that they capitalized on,” said McCarthy. “The ability to battle back after a big goal has been scored is one of the problems that we faced tonight.
“It was definitely a tough way to end the series,” added McCarthy. “We battled hard for all five games. The boys are a little bit upset here and I think we deserved a better fate, but that’s how hockey goes, that’s how playoffs go.”
Driscoll said it was a great feeling to get a shutout. Doing it in the playoffs is even better, he added.
“It’s not an individual effort at all,” said Driscoll. “The boys played great in front of me tonight. It was a heck of a win.”