VERNON - Matt Serratore finished what he started Monday. The Penticton Vees forward scored twice, including the game-winning goal, helping the Vees to a 4-3 come from behind win over the Vernon Vipers, in game three of their Interior Division Final.
For the second straight game, the Vees came back from a 3-1 second period deficit, scoring three unanswered goals in the process, to take a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-seven Division Final.
Vernon came out strong, opening the scoring less than two minutes into the game, when TJ Dumonceaux just squeezed a shot underneath Vees starter Hunter Miska. Demico Hannoun made a move in the right-circle and threw a pass across to Dumonceaux, who just got enough on his shot to get the puck under an outstretched Miska at 1:43.
Matt Serratore got the Vees back on even terms three minutes later, when he hammered a one-timer from the slot. Jack Ramsey got to a loose puck first behind the net and centered for Serratore, who sizzled a shot underneath Austin Smith’s pad at 4:28.
The Vipers grabbed the lead back two and a half minutes later, after Brendan Persley‘s back shot from behind the goal-line trickled in. Persley was originally stopped by Miska at the post but he tracked the rebound to the corner and threw a shot towards the net that glanced off Miska’s backside and in at 7:07.
Brett Mulcahy padded the Vipers lead on a power-play shortly thereafter. Josh Bryan slid a pass across to Mulcahy on the far-side of the zone and he flipped the puck over Miska’s glove at 9:41. That goal would spell the end of Miska’s night, as he was replaced by Olivier Mantha after allowing three goals on seven shots.
Brad McClure ignited the comeback once again, as he made it a one-goal game early in the second on a Vees power-play. Brett Beauvais dished the puck to McClure, who rifled a one-timer from the mid-point through traffic and over Smith’s shoulder at 5:17; the Vees first power-play goal of the series.
The Vees continued to press in the third period and finally broke through late in the frame. Cody DePourcq out-muscled a Vipers defender behind the net, cut back out front along the goal-line and slid the puck around the outstretched pad of Smith at 15:33; DePourcq’s fourth of the playoffs and first in four games.
The stalemate didn’t last very long, as the Vees scored the go-ahead goal just two minutes later. McClure went for skate in the Vernon zone, and on his second loop he leaned into a shot from the right-circle. His shot was blocked, but it squirted right back out to Serratore, who wired the rebound into an open net at 17:39; Serratore scoring his second of the night and third of the post-season.
The Vees held off a late push by the Vipers in the final two minutes, including some heavy pressure inside the final minute when the Vernon goalie was pulled.
Final Score: 4-3 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 1-4 Vipers 1-4
Three Stars: 1) Brad McClure 2) TJ Dumonceaux 3) Matt Serratore
Brad McClure extended is point streak to twelve games and his goal-scoring streak to ten games in the win; he has two goals and six points in the last two games. McClure’s second period power-play goal was the Vees first of the series in twelve tries. Including the regular season, the Vees are now a perfect 6-0-0 when Serratore scores. The team that has now scored first has lost all three games in the series.
The Vees look to take a 3-1 series lead tomorrow, in game four at Kal-Tire Place in Vernon; puck drop is slated for 7pm. Fans can hear all the action on EZ Rock AM 800, starting with the pre-game show at 6:30pm. Game five goes Thursday, March 20th at the SOEC. Tickets for that game are available at the Valley First Box Office (at the SOEC), or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com