Nicholas Jones’ seventh goal of the playoffs has the Penticton Vees one win away from advancing to the B.C. Hockey League Final.
Jones tipped a slapshot by defenceman James Miller past Vernon Vipers goalie Darion Hanson to give the Vees a 3-2 overtime victory Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre. After seeing the puck go in, Jones jumped up as the crowd of 3,563 went into a frenzy.
“They iced the puck there. We jumped out, we knew they were tired so we wanted to get a quick draw in there,” said Jones. “Was able to get the draw there and the D moved it nice to each other and Millsy (James Miller) hammered the puck and I was just fortunate to get a bounce off of it. It was a good shot by him and I think we just took advantage of an icing.”
Trailing 2-1 early in the second period, the Vipers got the equalizer when Jagger Williamson found a loose puck by Mat Robson, and put it behind the Vees goalie. That goal came just over three minutes after Taylor Sanheim gave the Vees a 2-1 lead 13 seconds into the period. That led to extra time as neither team could bury their chances in the final frame. Robson earned the second star with a 26-save performance, while Hanson was named the third star as he made 33 saves.
Jones said the overtime was intense.
“We have been in three of them now these playoffs. We know what to expect,” said Jones. “Everybody is grinding out. We had a mind frame to just get pucks on net and play the right way and the goals will come. A greasy one like that goes in.”
The Vipers opened the scoring on Cameron Trott’s third goal set up by Jimmy Lambert and Chris Jandric on the power play. That goal came at 6:34. On a power play of their own, the Vees got the equalizer at 7:51 when Gabe Bast blasted a shot from the point that beat Hanson blocker side.
Vipers coach Mark Ferner said coming into the SOEC, he knew the Vees would get off a to a good start they would have to match and better. In overtime he said they had some tired bodies and one of their players lost his stick.
“Our guys were really disappointed but we have an opportunity to go home and I feel comfortable with our group playing at home,” said Ferner. “We’ll get the matchups that we want. We had a great opportunity here to go up 3-2 and we didn’t. We just need to look after our own backyard tomorrow.”
“It’s always the hardest one to win the fourth one,” said Jones. “Nobody is going to go out easy. We expect their best tomorrow. We got to go in there with a killer instinct.”
In other BCHL action, the Victoria Grizzlies pushed their series to a sixth game against the Chilliwack Chiefs following a 3-2 overtime win of their own at Prospera Centre.