The makers of Slap Shot would have been disappointed by the lack of hate between the Vernon Vipers and Penticton Vees Wednesday night.
There weren’t big hits as the rivals battled for top spot in the Interior Conference with the Vipers maintaining their cozy position at the top.
Kellen Jones gave his team a 3-2 overtime win when he broke the hearts of Vees fans as he initally looked to pass and instead shot as he skated down the left side and snuck a wrist shot between Vees goalie Sean Bonar and the post.
“I definitely wanted it back,” said Bonar, who made 27 saves. “He just made a good shot. He beat me low blocker. I should have been quicker to my post.”
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said his team played a good game and pointed out that two of Vernon’s goals were deflected off their own players.
Sahir Gill scored after his backhand shot towards the net hit a Vees players leg then slowly trickled past Bonar. David Robinson tied the game at two after his backhand shot deflected off Isaac MacLeod’s stick and beat Bonar high blocker side.
On the overtime goal, Harbinson had nothing to say.
“I thought we played hard,” said Harbinson, noting his team battled with three lines as captain Denver Manderson is still out with a lower body injury. “It was a high tempo game. We know we will be fine. We had a good series.”
When asked about the chances generated, Harbinson said they are harder to come by in playoff-like games.
“We had chances on the power-play, plenty of chances to finish the game,” he said. “There were not many chances for both teams.”
Referee Andrew Guest gave the Vees eight power play opportunities, including three in the first period and four in the second. The Vipers went 0-for-5 on the power-play. Twice the Vees were given three consecutive power plays. Vees rookie Alex Szczechura scored the lone Vees power-play goal when he followed up a play which Milan fired a shot on goal and Szczechura was there to bury the rebound past Vipers goalie Blake Voth, who turned aside 23 shots. Late in the second period, Vees rookie Beau Bennett helped put pressure on Voth, but the Vees couldn’t finish.
“Once we do (get chances), finishing our chances on any team is going to be key through the playoffs,” said Milan. “You’re not going to get as many chances, it will be a tighter game defensively against whoever you play.”
Vees defenceman Bo Dolan made it 2-1 for the Vees after Eric Filiou won a faceoff back to the blueliner, who beat Voth with a point shot through traffic. That goal came 5:01 into the third period, just two minutes after Gill’s goal and likely gave the crowd of 2,323 in the South Okanagan Events Centre the sense the Vees would win.
Despite the loss, the Vees still have confidence they can be successful against their rivals. For full story go to www.pentictonwesternnews.com.
“We still have eight of 14 points against them,” said Milan of their 3-1-0-2 record. “We won the season series against them. All of the games have been close. We definitely aren’t scared of them.”
Vipers coach Mark Ferner is happy his team came out with two points in a building which the Vees have lost three times in regulation and twice in overtime — both those losses against Vernon. Ferner was pleased with the penalty killing efforts and then to get momentum back.
“We just needed to get pucks to the net,” said Ferner. “Guys were focused to play within system. Obviously it’s still a race for first overall. We haven’t had tons of success against Penticton other than the last two games. Morally it was a good victory.”
The Vees now trail the Vipers 99-96 in points. The Vees will host Westside on Friday and Trail on Sunday, while the Vipers have three games remaining against.
Vernon Vipers Kellen Jones (centre) and Penticton Vees Bo Dolan battle for position in front of Vees netminder Sean Bonar on this shot from the point. Jones scored the overtime winner in Wednesday’s BCHL game at the South Okanagan Events Centre.