WEST KELOWNA - Some home cooking is just what the West Kelowna Warriors needed to get back into their series against the Penticton Vees. Liam Blackburn scored midway through the third period, breaking a 1-1 deadlock, as the Warriors edged the Vees 2-1 in game three at Royal LePage Place.
Penticton now leads the best-of-seven series 2-1, with game four in West Kelowna on Tuesday night.
Nic Jones scored the only Vees goal and on the power-play midway through the first and Zach Driscoll suffered his first loss of the playoffs, stopping 21 of 23 shots.
Jonathan Desbiens scored the Warriors first goal, before Blackburn scored the game-winner in the third. Matt Greenfield posted his first win of the series and took home second star honours after making 23 saves on 24 shots.
Deadlocked at one’s in the third, Blackburn found a rebound off the pad of Driscoll and poked the loose puck underneath the sprawled goaltender at 8:19. Driscoll stopped the blast from the blue-line but couldn’t do much about the rebound that Blackburn jammed in from the inside the crease.
Penticton did pressure late, trying to generate an equalizer but unlike Saturday there weren’t any late game heroics on Monday. Penticton even had a late power-play that turned into a six-on-four advantage after they pulled the goalie but West Kelowna held them at bay.
In the first, the power-play, which was shutout in game two, opened the scoring in game three for the Vees. Jones found a rebound that came off the goalie’s arm and forced a bouncing puck through a crowd in the crease at 12:12; his first of the series and sixth of the playoffs.
Despite some pressure the Vees couldn’t build upon their early lead and that proved costly, as the Warriors tied it late in the opening frame. After the Vees turned it over near their bench, Jonathan Desbiens was sent in the other way on the left-wing, and he slid a backhand through Driscoll’s legs at 18:30.
The two teams kept each other off the scoresheet in the second but there were chances for the visitors. Penticton hit the post and or cross-bar three times in the middle frame, twice on a lengthy five-on-three. Both Dante Fabbro and Tyson Jost ripped one-timers of each post during the same shift on a Vees’ two-man advantage. Later, Jones had a great rush down the middle but it ended with his shot clanking off the middle bar and out of play.
Penticton pushed in the final three-minutes but couldn’t get an equalizer by Warriors’ goaltender Matt Greenfield. One of the Vees’ best chances came off a tip in front by Easton Brodzinski but Greenfield got a glove to it.
Final Score: 2-1 Warriors
Shots: 23-21 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 1-6 Warriors 0-1
Three Stars: 1) Liam Blackburn 2) Matt Greenfield 3) Nic Jones
Both Scott Conway and Tyson Jost extended their playoff point streaks in the loss. Conway and Jost both have points in all eight of the Vees’ playoff games. Easton Brodzinski did leave the game in the second period after being hit with the puck in the mouth, but returned in the third sporting a full cage.
Game four goes tonight, March 22, at Royal LePage Place; puck drop is 7pm. Listen to the game on EZ Rock AM 800, or watch online at www.fasthockey.com. You can buy tickets at the Warriors office from 9-4 or by calling 250-769-7051.