In the same manner which teams remember the bitter feeling of defeat in the playoffs, payback brings such sweet karma.
Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton is seeking such with Vernon Mayor Wayne Lippert.
“I’m looking forward to getting even,” said Ashton, who lost his first bet with Lippert and wore a Vipers jersey during a council meeting.
Lippert got his first friendly jab on Ashton, who has forgotten to return the jersey. Lippert told Ashton it was OK that he forgot it and added that Ashton’s likely confident he will have to wear it again.
“It’s something to help raise awareness and have fun,” said Lippert. “This is two very good teams. I have to pick Vernon to win but it could go either way.”
Lippert is excited for the series and hopes to make a trip to Penticton.
Vees goalie Sean Bonar said their meeting with the Vernon Vipers is what people have been waiting for.
“It’s perfect,” he said. “There was pressure on us to get there. Guys have been wanting this.”
Because the Vipers have offensively talented players, Bonar said the Vees have to play disciplined and get pucks on net. He wants to see players drive pucks on (Graeme) Gordon early.
“It’s going to be a tough series,” he said. “We have to always be pressing forward.”
When Eric Filiou scored the 4-3 overtime winner from the right corner, Bonar was shocked.
“I felt terrible for (Kevin) Jebson,” said Bonar, adding he felt the Warriors goalie was playing very well.
After the Warriors dominated the overtime period on Tuesday, outshooting the Vees 9-1, Johnston made a pass to Filiou, who from the side of the net fired the puck on goal. The 20-year-old said he found a gap between Jebson’s leg and the post and aimed for the spot.
Johnston expects their battle with the Vipers to be a fast-paced series. Johnston would like to see the Vees contain the Vipers’ speed. When asked what he looks forward to while facing Vernon, he said, “I look forward to winning.”
The Vees’ alternate captain is coming off a strong series, which he scored three goals and four points in six games. He tied Game 6 at one with a wrist shot that went in off Jebson’s glove.
“I was gonna take a slapshot through Joel Woznikoski’s legs,” he said. “It’s kind of one of my shots.”
Entering the series Bonar said he is confident about his play. While it wasn’t a good feeling to allow Warriors forward Alex Grieve to score a goal that beat the buzzer, he rebounded from that let down.
“Scoring in the last second, you couldn’t write a more stressful script,” he said. “I felt good in overtime. I feel pretty confident in high-pressure situations.”
During the regular season, the Vees went 3-1-0-2 against the Vipers with Sean Bonar earning a shutout in their first meeting in Vernon. The Vees lost the last two meetings, more recently at home in overtime 3-2. Without captain Denver Manderson, the young Vees lost in five games in last year’s playoffs.
Vipers’ coach Mark Ferner said the one thing they have over teams is the experience of winning the Royal Bank Cup.
“Our guys have what it takes to win,” said Ferner. “Our ability to roll four lines wears teams down, especially in a seven-game series. We’re prepared to play seven hard games and that’s the mentality you have to have.
“We want to play the best team out there at their best, and we feel that’s Penticton,” continued Ferner. “I’m sure they’re saying the same thing. It should be a very entertaining series. Fans will be in for a treat.”
With the exception of Sexton’s upper body injury, the Vees are healthy.
Following the win over Westside, Vees captain Denver Manderson said they have been playing with three lines because of the injury to Sexton. Manderson emphasized the importance in getting him back. Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson wasn’t available for comment so no update on Sexton was reported.
Bo Dolan has two assists in 10 playoff games but it’s his toughness that will help the Penticton Vees compete with the Vernon Vipers as they battle for the Interior Conference championship.