I was at tonights Game 3 of the Interior Conference Finals as Penticton defeated Vernon 4-0 in front of 1,882 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Vernon: Graeme Gordon
Penticton: Sean Bonar
1st Period: Both teams got off to a bit of a slow start, before the Vipers got the play in the Vees zone and slowly generated some chances. Very few quality scoring chances in the opening period. Dan Nycholat's point shot was stopped by Sean Bonar who couldnt control the rebound, as Dylan Walchuk was on the door step but couldnt beat Bonar down low smothering the rebound. On the same shift Walchuk come out from the corner, cut towards the middle and then ripped a low shot, as Bonar made a real nice toe save on the play. The Vipers with just two real good chances in the Vees zone. Who ever was recording the shots on goal was way off. At this point in the game Vernon must have had atleast a good six or seven shots but only three were on the board. With a faceoff deep in the Vipers zone, the Vees won the draw back to Matt Paltridge who's screened shot got through a Viper d-man and Graeme Gordon at 5:32 putting the Vees on the board first getting the all important first goal of the game. This was Penticton's first shot on net. Denver Manderson with the lone assist. Back come Vernon and with some sustained pressure in the Penticton zone the Vipers were unable to generate any real scoring chances. Shots were now 8-2 in favor of Vernon. The Vipers lost the puck along the boards forcing a turnover wich gave Denver Manderso & Isaac Macleod on the two on one, Dan Nycholat showed good hustle to get back into the play forcing Manderson to take the shot from in close. Gordon made the save with traffic in front, the puck would come out front and Jake Johnson was there to hit the empty net at 11:12 giving the Vees a 2-0. Denver Manderson & Isaac Macleod with the helpers. Just twenty six seconds later the Vipers thought they had scored as Sean Bonar was knocked over in the crease losing his mask, as the Vipers found the back of the net. But the goal was waived off as the Vipers were called for goaltender interference. Penticton with the games first powerplay of the night couldnt get much going as the Vipers would kill off the minor. Just a few minutes later Vernon would get its first powerplay but the Vees would kill off the minor. The Vipers would come back late in the period with some good pressure but again couldnt get any real good scoring opportunities. The Vees did a great job at keeping the Vipers to the outside and didnt allow any traffic in front of Sean Bonar. Any Vernon shots were from the outside wich Bonar saw all the way. The Vipers would get a late man advantage wich would carry through into the 2nd period. Penticton was up 2-0 after 20 minutes of play. The difference in the opening period, Penticton with just two chances, scored on both. Vernon couldnt connect on their chances. The Vipers outshot the Vees 15-11.
2nd Period: With the Vipers still on the powerplay Adam Thompson was stoned in close after jumping up into the play but couldnt beat Bonar who come up big with a nice save. The Vees would kill off the minor. Just after the powerplay expired David Robinson and Braden Pimm went in two on two, Robinson setup Pimm who put a nice move on the Penticton d-man, Pimm faked his shot making Bonar go down but Pimm couldnt get a shot off after Bonar was down and out. The Vees would carry the play up ice, getting the play in deep. Ryan Viselli would battle Adam Thompson for the loose puck along the end wall, Viselli managed to through the puck out front wich went off the skate of Viper Captain Kevin Kraus and through Graeme Gordon's legs giving the Vees a 3-0 lead at 2:48 Viselli's goal was unassisted. This goal was the back breaker as it seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the Vernon Vipers. From here on in the Vipers couldnt seem to get anything going or do anything right. The Vipers were called offside several times, any shots that were shot towards the net either were blocked, hit someone in front or tipped off a stick and went into the corner. Eric Filiou with a nice shot from the slot was stopped by Gordon, Ryan Viselli jumped on the rebound but couldnt beat Gordon again on the rebound as Gordon made two huge saves. This was the only real good scoring chances Penticton mustered all period. The Vipers just couldnt seem to generate any kind of offensive attack. Penticton now started to step up the physical play, laying out some huge checks. Both Connor & Kellen Jones were given a few big checks. The Vees did a great job at clogging up the neutral zone as the Vipers were having all kinds of troubles trying to get into the Vees zone. At this point the Vees basically just played dump and chase and played a solid defensive game for the remainder of the period. Vernon couldnt get a bounch all night, as the Vees blocked alot of shots in the middle frame. Any shots that did get through were from the outside with no traffic in front as Bonar was their for the easy save. Not many good scoring chances at either end of the rink as Penticton was up 3-0 after 40 minutes of play. The Vipers outshot the Vees 9-8.
3rd Period: Off the opening draw the Vees would get the play in deep, Garrett Milan with a great chance at the side of the net was stopped by Gordon. Penticton would get an early powerplay and come close to going ahead 4-0 as Beau Bennett somehow missed on a wide open net. The Vipers would kill off the minor. With the Vees up 3-0 Penticton sat back as Vernon carried the play for most of the period but again couldnt get anything going. The Vees were by far the more physical team through out tonights game, Penticton also won the majority of the battles down low and the races to the puck. Penticton's defence played a solid game, keeping the Vipers to the outside as Vernon couldnt generate any offesive attack. No real offensive attack coming from the Vees either. Penticton's one and only real good scoring play came when Ryan Viselli's hard shot from the slot handcuffed Graeme Gordon who just got his glove on it to keep the puck from going out. The Vees would get a late powerplay but with no real good chances the Vipers killed off the minor. Vernon carried the edge in play but couldnt generate any real good scoring chances with most of their shots coming from the outside. Late in the 3rd Graeme Gordon would head to the bench for the extra attacker, the Vipers would get the play in deep but Vees Captain Denver Manderson would steal the puck at the blueline and hit the empty net at 19:49 giving Penticton the 4-0 lead. Manderson's goal was unassisted. In the end Sean Bonar would collect his 2nd shutout of the playoffs as Penticton defeated Vernon 4-0 as the Vipers lead the series 2-1. Vernon outshot Penticton 13-6.
Top Players: (Vernon)
Adam Thompson played a solid game on the Vernon blueline. Thompson looked very solid and played with alot of confidence all night.
Top Players: (Penticton)
Sean Bonar (37 saves-shutout) Bonar played well between the pipes for the Vees picking up his 2nd shutout of the playoffs. Bonar didnt have to make any real big saves but made the saves when needed to give his team a chance to win. Bonar with very little traffic in front all night, saw almost all of the Vernon shots wich made his night very easy at times.
Derik Johnson played a very strong game on the Penticton backend. Johnson played a very defensive game for the Vees really shutting down the Vipers top players.
Bo Dolan Another d-man who I thought played very well on the Vees blueline.
Ryan Viselli (1 goal) Viselli had a strong game up front. Scored one of his easiest goals he will ever score. Viselli's shot from the end boards went off Kevin Kraus and through Graeme Gordon's legs giving Penticton a 3-0 lead and taking the wind out of the sails of the Vipers. Viselli played with alot of jump and emotion all game.
Eric Filiou I thought played a well game for most of Game 3. Filiou had some jump and seemed to get a few good chances tonight.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
I thought Vernon played well in the opening period but couldnt get the bounces. The Vipers got off to a good start, getting a few good chances and some pressure before the Vees come back and score on their first shot on goal. Vernon battled back again with some good pressure but couldnt find the back of the net, back come the Vees and they score to go ahead 2-0. Two chances, two goals. Penticton's 3rd goal early into the 2nd period was the killer. This goal took the life out of the Vipers and from here on in basically couldnt do anything. Vernon had the better of the chances but also didnt generate enough quality chances, I said before most of the Vipers shots were from the outside with no traffic in front. The Vipers didnt get one odd man rush, several shots either hit someone in front, were blocked or tipped. The Vipers just couldnt get much of anything going tonight, you could see by the 3rd period the Vipers looked very frustrated. Vernon does need to play physical against Penticton, the Vipers wernt very physical tonight, they couldnt seem to get the forecheck-cycle going at all. Lost alot of battles and one on one races to the puck. Tonight just wasnt their night. How big was Rob Short's Overtime winner in Game 2? A Penticton win and now they have the 2-1 series lead. The Vipers need to re-group and come back and get ready to battle again tomorrow night.
Game Thoughts: (Penticton)
Well give the Penticton Vees full credit, tonight was basically a must win. A loss and its a very long hill to climb to try and win four straight, but a win and their right back in this series. The Vees basically only had to play for one period before the game was over. After the 3rd Vees goal they basically took their foot off the gas and sat back and played some real solid defensive hockey. Penticton played a physical game, won most of the battles and one on one races, played with alot of jump and emotion. Scored on their chances and got the bounces. The Vees played with a little desperation and it worked. The Vees defence was solid tonight, they kept Vernon to the outside, clogged up the neutral zone giving them a very difficult time at trying to break through into the Vees zone. Penticton also come up with a ton of blocked shots. The Vees defence kept the Vipers away from the front of the net, wich gave Sean Bonar a chance at seeing all the shots with no traffic in front. This series is far from over, Penticton is now 6-0 on home ice during the playoffs and will be ready to battle again tomorrow night. Game 4 is another key game, a Vernon win and they go up 3-1 in the series, a Penticton win and the series is all tied heading back to Vernon for Game 5. They announced tonights attendance at 1,882 it sure looked much smaller to me.
Aaron Hadley (AP)
Trevor Fitzgerald (AP)
1st Star: Sean Bonar (37 saves-shutout)
2nd Star: Denver Manderson (1 goal & 2 assists)
3rd Star: Ryan Viselli (1 goal)