Vees bow to Warriors in BCHL playoff opener

Early power play goal in second overtime burns Vees against the Warriors

Penticton Vees netminder Hunter Miska watches this shot from West Kelowna Warriors Brent Mennear during the first period of the March 3 B.C. Hockey League playoffs at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Penticton Vees netminder Hunter Miska watches this shot from West Kelowna Warriors Brent Mennear during the first period of the March 3 B.C. Hockey League playoffs at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Jason Cotton’s power play goal gave the West Kelowna Warriors a 1-0 series lead over the Penticton Vees.

The Warriors took the opening game of the BCHL Interior Division semifinal 4-3 at the South Okanagan Events Centre Tuesday night. Cotton scored as he snagged a loose puck kicked out by Vees goalie Hunter Miska, who finished with 34 saves, dragged it around the goalie allowing him to slide it behind him at 5:39 of the second overtime. That silenced the crowd of 1,502 that was sprinkled with a few Warriors supporters, who the visiting saluted for their support.

“I thought we played well. We got pucks to the net. We crashed the net,” said Vees co-captain Cody DePourcq. “Their goalie (Scott Patton, 52 saves on 55 shots) played well but we got to figure out a way to put some pucks in the net and win a game.”

The Warriors were given the power play leading to the overtime winner when Vees forward Demico Hannoun, named the Fortis Energy Player of the Game, hammered Cotton in the corner by Patton at 4:40. The officials ruled he made contact with his knee. Hannoun disagreed with the call and when asked about it, DePourcq said he couldn’t tell from where he was.

“I will kill that penalty for Noon any day. It was just a hard play,” said DePourcq. “That’s the way he plays, with an edge to him.”

Cotton, named the first star, was also in on the goal that forced overtime when he fed Kristian Blumenschein, who fired a shot past Miska’s glove.

The Vees opened the scoring on a breakaway by Tyson Jost at 7:10 of the first period. He broke in alone on Patton and beat him high glove side with a backhand. The Warriors then replied twice on goals by Josh Bly and Brayden Gelsinger. Hannoun, who had a few chances on the night, scored the 2-2 goal, while Lewis Zerter-Gossage had given the Vees a 3-2 lead with two minutes remaining in the second period.

Aside from scoring, DePourcq said there wasn’t more they could have done to win.

“Really I don’t think there is a lot that we have to change,” he said.

The Vees went 0-for-2 on their power play while the Warriors scored on their only chance.

Game 2 goes Wednesday night at the SOEC at 7 p.m.