PENTICTON – The Penticton Vees turned the tables on Saturday, as they were the team to rally in the second period, en route to a 5-3 come from behind win over the Vernon Vipers, in game two of the Interior Division Final.
With the win, the Vees even the series at one game apiece, with the series shifting to Vernon for games three and four.
Friday, the Vipers rallied from a goal down to take a 3-1 lead in the second, en route to a 4-3 win. Saturday it was the Vees who put the rally caps up, as they scored twice, sixty-four seconds apart, to erase a 3-1 deficit late in the middle frame.
The Vipers hit the scoresheet first, as Dylan Chanter found the back of the net for the second straight night. Like Friday, Chanter bulged the twine with a shot from the blue-line, but this time he got some help from the Vees goalie. Chanter’s shot deflected off Hunter Miska’s arm, then off his heel, before sliding into the net at 9:53 of the first period.
Steen Cooper put the Vees back on even terms less than two minutes later, when he cleaned up a rebound in the crease. Brad McClure was stopped on his rush from the right-wing, but Cooper was right there to bat in the rebound at 11:46.
Vernon went back ahead late in the first after the Vees ran into some penalty trouble. On a Vipers five-on-three power-play, Mason Blacklock spotted Colton Sparrow on the far-side of the net for a tap-in at 17:20.
The Vipers made it 3-1 midway through the second period, as their power-play struck again. Brett Mulcahy finished-off a tic-tac-toe passing play, after being hit with a pass in the slot by Michael McNicholas at 10:02.
The Vees comeback started late in the period, when Cooper bagged his second of the game, after he redirected a pass from Brad McClure in tight. From the right-wing, McClure threw a pass to a charging Cooper, who deflected the puck up and over Austin Smith and underneath the cross-bar at 17:31.
McClure switched from play-maker to goal-scorer, as he tied the game sixty-four seconds later. Patrick Sexton spotted McClure at the Vees bench with a great stretch pass, and the Vees Captain broke behind the defense and put the puck upstairs on Smith at 18:35; his team-leading eighth goal of the playoffs.
The Vees rode the momentum into the third, as Riley Alferd grabbed them their first lead of the game three and a half minutes in. Alferd took a pass from the wall from Jack Ramsey, eluded a hit and then squeezed a shot through Smith’s arm at 3:39.
Max Coatta added insurance two-minutes later, when he forced the puck over the goal-line after a scramble in the Vernon crease. Cam Amantea was originally stopped on a wrap-around attempt, but the play wasn’t blown dead and Coatta was the last one to get a stick on the puck at 5:38; his second in as many games.
Final Score: 5-3 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 0-6 Vipers 2-4
Three Stars: 1) Brad McClure 2) Steen Cooper 3) Brett Mulcahy
Brad McClure finished with a game-high three points (1-2-3) and extended his point streak to 11 games in the win; he’s now scored in nine straight games. Steen Cooper (2-0-2) and Paul Stoykewych each had multi-point games as well. Hunter Miska made 19 saves for his third win his in his third start in the post-season.
The scene shifts to Vernon and Kal-Tire Place for the next two games. Game three goes on St. Patrick’s Day, Monday, March 17th; puck drop is 7pm. Fans can tune in to EZ Rock AM 800 for all the action, starting with the pre-game show at 6:30pm. A webcast is available via pay-per-view at www.fasthockey.com.