Getting behind early cost the Penticton Vees in a 3-2 loss to the Vernon Vipers Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Steven Jandric gave the visitors a 3-0 lead 1:14 into the second period of the BCHL tilt between the Interior Division rivals (READ MORE: Vees hold off Vipers) and his goal would stand as the winner. The loss snapped the Vees’ three-game winning streak with 3,279 fans on hand.
“We played how we should play. Last weekend we got away from what we are supposed to do,” said Jandric, who has eight goals on the season. “We had a good week of practice, got back to what we need to do to win. We worked hard.”
The Vees outshot the Vipers 10-9 in the first period, but it was the Vipers who struck first. With the Vees on the power play, Niko Karamanis fought off a back check from Duncan Campbell as he rushed into the Vees end, then made a forehand to backhand move to get around goalie Mat Robson and beat him.
The Vipers made it 2-0 on a four-minute power play. Karamis took a pass from Christian Cakebread at the side of the goal and blasted it from just in front of the crease.
Jandric credited their strong start to preparation.
“Focusing before the game. A good warm up and crisp passes and hard shots,” he said “Our coach really strives on getting 10 shots in the first 10 minutes.”
“I thought as a team we came out flat in the first period,” said Vees forward Chris Klack. “We knew what we were in for. We knew it was gong to be a grind and a battle with Vernon. We have to expect that.”
The Vees, who fired nine shots on Ty Taylor in the third period, pressured on a few occasions. Grant Cruikshank had the Vees bench on its feet, but instead of shooting on a partial breakaway, he passed the puck. There was no one there however. Jared Nash also had a golden chance with Taylor out of position. With 2:23 remaining, Owen Sillinger was stopped by Taylor, who finished with 26 saves.
The Vees cut the Viper lead to won in the second on two power play goals by James Miller and Klack. Miller cut the Vipers lead to 3-1 when he hammered a shot from the blue line glove side on Taylor. Then with 2:19 remaining in the second period, Owen Sillinger drew a penalty. Moving the puck around the Vipers zone, Ward had the puck at the side of the net and fed it to Klack, who was going hard to the crease. His shot changed slight direction ricocheting off the inside of the post past Taylor at 18:22. Miller also drew an assist on the goal.
“We turned it on in the second and third,” said Klack. “Sometimes it’s too late. it showed tonight.”
Klack said he hoped they could keep momentum going from his power play tally.
“That’s always a huge momentum builder. Especially when you are grinding like that. Just try to fire the boys up there. Couldn’t pull it together,” he said. “We had a lot of shots on net. Give credit to their goalie, he made a couple of good saves.”
Among the other chances the Vees had was a Taylor Ward one-timer that went off of Taylor’s shaft.
Robson finished with 22 saves. The Vees are now 18-4-0, while the Vipers improve to 10-10-2-0. Both teams will face each other again in Vernon on Saturday.