Vees sweep Salmon Arm out of BCHL playoffs

Chad Katunar makes 25 saves in win, while rookie Ryan Gropp pots winner in sweep of the SilverBacks

Submitted by Fraser Rodgers

Killing off a 91-second two man advantage was the start of the Penticton Vees eliminating the Salmon Arm SilverBacks in four games.

The Vees won the British Columbia Hockey League Interior Conference semifinal with a 5-1 win. Shortly after killing off their penalty, the Vees scored their own power play goal and defenceman James de Haas blasted a point shot over Adam Clark’s glove. De Haas, who had five goals in 53 regular season games, has two in four playoff games after he converted a Brock Balson backhand pass.

While Chad Katunar stood on his head as he turned as 12 first period shots, the Vees made the SilverBacks pay as Alex Gillis was ejected from the game for kneeing Cam Amantea.  Ryan Gropp scored his first career BCHL playoff goal, then Sean Flanagan beat his former team has he scored his first goal since Jan. 18. That gave the Vees a 3-0 lead.

Wade Murphy then snapped his five-game goal-scoring slump when he scored late in the first.

The Vees outshot the SilverBacks 14-5 in the second period, but only Jedd Soleway found a hole in Clark as his shot squeezed through the goalie.

Katunar, who finished with 25 saves, could only be beat when a centering pass redirected off of Ryan Schwalbe’s leg.

Gropp, Nanne, Soleway, de Haas and Flanagan each finished with two points.

Vees notes:  The Vees scored first in all games for a 9-0 advantage. The Vees scored seven goals in the other periods to the SilverBacks’ six. The Vees only trailed for 24 minutes and 40 seconds in the entire series. The Vees now have a 10-day break between series as the Interior Conference final starts March 29 at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Vees will play the winner of the West Kelowna-Merritt, which the Warriors currently lead 3-1.