In front of a crowd of 1,347 at the South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton Vees goalie Sean Bonar stole the show Tuesday.
Bonar made 40 saves to lead the Vees to a 3-1 win over the Westside Warriors in Game 1 of the second round of the BCHL playoffs.
“I thought Bonar was outstanding,” said Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson.
Bonar was forced to make a few key saves in the opening period in which the Warriors fired 14 pucks in his direction. Warriors goalie Kevin Jebson faced the same amount but wasn’t really tested that period.
The Vees opened the scoring in the second when Alex Szczechura tipped a pass from Matt Paltridge high past Jebsons blocker. Nearly three minutes later, not long after Denver Manderson nearly had his head removed from a hit, the Vees captain made the Warriors pay on the power play as he took a feed from Beau Bennett and labeled it top corner on Jebson’s glove side. It was the first of two power play goals for the Vees. The second scored by Beau Bennett, who was given a gift when the Warriors gave up the puck near the right faceoff circle. Bennett showed patience, headed near the net and picked the top corner on Jebson’s glove again. Jebson made 24 saves on the night.
The Vees went two-for-six on the man advantage while the Warriors were zero-for-three and that was the difference according to Warriors coach Darren Yopyk.
“They had six power plays to our two-and-a-half,” said Yopyk, who didn’t have a problem with the officiating. “We’re undisciplined. They have the leading scorer, league MVP and the leading scoring defenceman. If we keep giving them power plays we won’t have a hope in hell. It will be a sweep.”
As much as Yopyk didn’t like that aspect of his team’s play, the Warriors coach was still proud of his players and felt they played a good game.
“It’s two evenly matched teams,” he said. “They played well.”
Harbinson felt there were a few guys who played well and others who looked nervous and he didn’t know why.
“It’s not for a lack of trying,” he said. “They were just fighting it.”
Harbinson wouldn’t name any players but made it clear he wants to see players step up and he feels they need to play with the puck more.
In a game which lacked flow and intensity, Bonar made up for it with some big saves and the Vees netminder admitted that first game challenged him more than he was against Merritt.
“There was a couple of saves I made that I was proud of,” said Bonar, who was happy the way his defence played, especially pushing shots to the outside.
The Vees will try to take a 2-0 lead in the series today when they host the Warriors at the SOEC at 7 p.m.