PENTICTON - The Penticton Vees find themselves down 2-0 in the best-of-seven Fred Page Cup Final after the Nanaimo Clippers picked up a stunning 2-1 overtime win Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Brett Roulston made quick work of the extra period, as the Clippers’ forward buried his sixth of the playoffs just twenty-seconds into overtime, sending Nanaimo home with a weekend sweep and a commanding series lead.
Off the opening face-off in OT, Roulston took a pass from Nicolas Carrier and got in behind the Vees defense, before firing a bullet up high over Hunter Miska’s shoulder on the near-side.
Sheldon Rempal scored for the Clippers in regulation, scoring the game-tying goal in the first period, and Guillaume Decelles turned aside 37 of 38 Penticton shots.
Cody DePourcq was the only Vee to get a puck past Decelles, as he scored on the power-play midway through the first. Hunter Miska was tagged with the loss but was sharp in defeat, turning aside 21 of 23 Nanaimo shots.
The Vees got off to another fantastic start, as they threw 20 shots at the Nanaimo net in the first period, and spent a majority of the period in the Clippers end. It took an extended power-play to finally break through.
The Clippers were saddled with a four-minute high-sticking penalty and DePourcq didn’t let the opportunity go to waste. The Vees Co-Captain, from the goal-line, turned and made a move to the net and forced the puck past Decelles at 13:05; his first in six games.
Like Friday, the Clippers were an opportunistic bunch in the first and tied the game late courtesy of Sheldon Rempal. The puck went back to Nic Gushue at the blue-line and he went across to Rempal on the far side, who put the puck between the legs of Miska at 18:43.
The teams were knotted up at 1-1, despite the Vees holding a 20-6 shot advantage after the opening twenty-minutes.
The second was much tighter than the first, as the two teams combined only for 14 shots in the middle stanza. Despite each team only being held to single-digit shots, there were chances on either side to break the 1-1 deadlock.
The Vees had a couple good looks from Dakota Conroy and Miles Gendron. Conroy just missed a one-timer from the top of the crease, as he heeled the puck wide. Gendron almost gave the Vees their second lead when he crashed the net, but his rebound attempt just caught a piece of the goaltender’s pad.
The Clippers best opportunity came on one of their two second period power-plays. Both Jacob Jackson and Sheldon Rempal tried to jam the puck in at the post but Miska did well to come across and pin his pad up against the post, keeping the puck from crossing the line.
In the third the Vees had a pair of opportunities to jump ahead again and late in regulation. Conroy was flirting with a goal once more but couldn’t cash-in on the doorstep, as he couldn’t get enough of his stick on a cross-crease feed.
Pat Newell maybe had the best chance of the night to break the stalemate, as he was sprung on a partial breakaway. Demico Hannoun chipped the puck ahead and Newell got around a flat-footed defender, before breaking in alone, but he couldn’t tuck his backhand attempt through the wickets of Decelles.
Final Score: 2-1 Nanaimo
Shots: 38-23 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 1-6 Nanaimo 0-3
Three Stars: 1) Brett Roulston 2) Cody DePourcq 3) Guillaume Decelles
DePourcq left the game early in the third period after taking a Nanaimo shot to the face; he’ll be reevaluated Sunday ahead of game three.
The series now shifts to Nanaimo for games three and four of the Fred Page Cup Final. Game three is on Monday, April 13th from Frank Crane Arena; puck drop is 7pm. Fans can listen to both games on EZ Rock AM 800, or they can watch online at www.fasthockey.com.