The Penticton Vees continued their regular season domination of the West Kelowna Warriors in their B.C. Hockey League (BCHL) Interior Division playoff opener Feb. 27 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
And it was the Tyler Ho show as 19-year-old right winger from Surrey netted a hat trick, leading the Vees to a 7-1 win over the Warriors in front of 2,600 fans to take a one-game lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Vees proved to be especially dangerous when the visitors had a man advantage, scoring three times with players in the penalty box, including Ho’s first while his team was two-men short.
Possessing one of the league’s most potent offences with the second-most goals during the regular season, the Vees found themselves trailing 1-0 less than half way through the opening period as John Evans slipped behind the Vee’s defence and beat goalie Yaniv Perets on the Warriors first shot.
Penticton had several good scoring chances but Johnny Derrick stood tall in net for the visitors.
Liam Malmquist finally got the home team on the board at the midway point, tapping in a rebound on a shot from the point and with just over two minutes to play Ho netted his first marker which proved to be the winner.
The Vees began to pad their lead in the middle frame as Connor Hutchison set up a wide-open Ho in front the net and Evan McIntyre scored and Danny Weight rounded out the period with his first of the playoffs.
Ho wrapped up the night for the Vees on the scoreboard with his third in the final frame which sent the hats raining onto the ice.
Penticton netminder Yaniv Perets added to his 25 regular season win total with his first post season victory, stopping all but one of the 23 shots he faced.
The game was the only playoff match on the Interior Division schedule. The other quarter-final series involving Interior Division teams include the runner-up Trail Smoke Eaters and the Prince George Spruce Kings doing battle and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks taking on the Victoria Grizzlies.
Game two for the Vees and Warriors series is Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at the SOEC and will then switch to West Kelowna Sunday at 3 p.m. and March 3 at 7 p.m.
If necessary, game five is March 4 at the SOEC at 7 p.m.