A 5-3 victory by the Penticton Vees against the Vernon Vipers to even the BCHL’s Interior Division final series at one started with Brad McClure and Steen Cooper.
Trailing 3-1 to the Vipers with 2:30 minutes remaining, Cooper tipped McClure’s shot top shelf past Austin Smith’s glove.
“It was a great deflection by him. I was just throwing it on net,” said McClure. “There was guys driving to the net. Good things happen and he had a good stick too. I was pretty surprised. He made a good play. It was a huge goal.”
One minute later, McClure, who has been dubbed Captain Clutch, was at it again as he burst into the Vipers zone with the puck from the blueline, made a move near the net a snapped a wrist shot from in close over Smith’s glove.
“I knew I had been shooting and he has been saving a lot of my shots,” said McClure on Smith. “I decided to deke and it worked out. Just kind of adrenaline right. That felt really good. It was a good goal to set us up for the third period.”
Vees coach Fred Harbinson credited his players and the crowd of 2,099 in the South Okanagan Events Centre.
“I thought they really got our guys going when they scored the next goal,” said Harbinson. “I could see it in our eyes. That’s why we got McClure back out there right away and he got the big tying goal.”
In the third period, Riley Alferd snapped the 3-3 draw as his shot trickled past Smith for the winner. The Vees added an insurance marker after crashing the net forcing Smith to slide back into his net while the puck squeezed through his legs at the same time. The Vipers bench, including coach Jason Williamson, were upset with the call.
“It’s definitely no goal. Batted in with a glove and goaltender interference on the play,” said Williamson. “That’s all I’m going to say. It’s definitely no goal.”
Williamson said the game shifted away from the Vipers when McClure made some plays and added the turnovers were costly for them.
“We knew it would be a long series,” said Williamson. “We had the mindset that if we could get a split, that would be okay, but when you go up 3-1, you’re looking for more.”
In the loss, the Vipers scored two of their goals on the power play, while the Vees went 0-for-6. Hunter Miska made 19 saves in the win, while Smith finished with 31 saves. McClure finished with a goals and three points, while Cooper had two goals and Paul Stoykewych, two assists. Dexter Dancs and Michael McNicholas had two assists for the Vipers. Dylan Chanter, Colton Sparrow and Brett Mulcahy scored for the Vipers.
Game 3 is in Vernon at the Kal Tire Place at 7 p.m. Check Wednesday issue for more Vees coverage and our website for updates.
In other BCHL playoff action, the Victoria Grizzlies shutout the Powell Rivers Kings 5-0 at The Q Centre in Victoria. The Grizzlies blew the game open after a scoreless first period with four goals in the second period. Gerry Fitzgerald starting things off on the power-play four minutes into the period. Jesse Schwartz, Jaden Schmeisser and Cole Pickup scored. Leo Fitzgerald added a fifth goal midway through the third. Alec Dillon made 25 saves in the win. The Grizzlies lead the series 2-0 and head to Powell River for Game 3 and 4.
The Coquitlam Express have a 2-0 series lead on the Langley Rivermen following a 2-1 win Saturday in Langley. Ryan Rosenthal scored a goal and added an assist in the first period. Responding for the Rivermen was Kevan Killistoff at 13:28. Gordie Defiel finished with 36 saves for the Express. Brock Crossthwaite turned aside 33 for the Rivermen. Games 3 and 4 of that series shift to Langley.