I was at tonights Game 5 of the Interior Conference Finals as Penticton defeated Vernon 3-2 in triple overtime in front of 2,815 fans at the Wesbild Centre.
Vernon: Graeme Gordon
Penticton: Sean Bonar
1st Period: Vernon would get the games first good scoring chance after Connor & Kellen Jones setup Sahir Gill in front who was stopped by Sean Bonar. Back come the Vees as Andrew Pickering with a shot from in close was stopped by Graeme Gordon. Gordon couldnt handle the puck as it went through the crease before the Vipers cleared the zone. Vernon would come back with some pressure and get the all important first goal of the game. Jonathan Milhouse setup Dylan Walchuk who beat Bonar at 5:33 giving the Vipers the 1-0 lead. Milhouse & Bryce Kakoske with the assists. Isaac Macleod with a shot from the slot handcuffed Gordon as the Vees come close to tying the game. Penticton couldnt generate much offence as Vernon carried the better of the play in the opening period. Kevin Kraus's point shot was tipped in front just missing the net. Cole Ikkala with some hard work down low couldnt get one past Bonar. Penticton would get the games first powerplay but it was Jonathan Milhouse who had the best chance, Milhouse one on one was stopped by Bonar. The Vees were unable to register a single shot on the man advantage as Vernon killed off the minor. Braden Pimm, Mike Collins and David Robinson on a three on two, Pimm setup Robinson who was robbed by Bonar who made a huge toe save to keep the Vipers off the board. The Vees with just two quality chances in the 1st. The Vipers would get a late powerplay but come up with no real good chances as the Vees killed off the penalty. The Vipers were the better of the two teams up 1-0 after 20 minutes of play. Vernon outshot Penticton 12-7.
2nd Period: Joey Holka would get a great chance early trying to split the Viper defence before Steve Weinstein showed good hustle coming back to break up the play to stop Holka from going in for the breakaway. The Vipers would get an early powerplay but unable to find the back of the net. The Jones-Gill line was buzzing in the first half of the 2nd as all three with some chances but couldnt beat Bonar. Cole Ikkala was then stopped by Bonar. Vernon carried the better of the play in the first half before Penticton seemed to turn the game around with some pressure at times of their own. The Vees only problem was they couldnt generate any offence, with just three shots on goal all 2nd period. Eric Filiou with a good chance in front was stopped Gordon. Penticton with several odd man rushes couldnt seem to get the play in deep or get traffic towards the net as the Vipers defence was forcing the Vees to the outside. In the second half the play opened up at times with some good back and forth action at either ends of the rink. Late in the 2nd Rob Short setup Cole Ikkala at 18:21 giving Vernon a 2-0 lead heading into the 3rd. The Vipers outshot the Vees 13-3.
3rd Period: With the Vees season on the line Penticton come out strong really taking it to the Vipers. The Vees would get the play in deep, move the puck down low in behind the Vipers goal, where Denver Manderson setup Beau Bennett at 2:03 as Penticton cut the lead to 2-1. Manderson & Derik Johnson with the assists. Just a few minutes later the Gill-Jones line thought they had tied the game after goal light come on but no signal from referee Grant Tyson. The play kept going as the goal light was still on. The play continued before finally the Vipers went to talk to Grant Tyson, Tyson and the linesmen talked things over before going to the Vipers bench and talking with Mark Ferner. Tyson didnt talk to the goal judge and the game continued with Vernon still ahead 2-1. Penticton with all kinds of pressure really took it too Vernon for most of the 3rd. Connor Jones in front couldnt beat Bonar on a nice scoring chance. Sahir Gill was stopped again in front by Bonar. Bo Dolan's point shot was tipped in front but somehow Graeme Gordon made the big save. Ryan Viselli was stopped in close. The Vees were by far the better of the two teams in the 3rd getting some good chances. Vernon was back on their heels a little trying to adjust to the Vees pressure. With five minutes remaining Garrett Milan setup Joey Holka who's shot from the end boards banked in off Gordons pads and in tying the game 2-2 at 15:26 Milan with the lone assist. In the final minute Ryan Visellis long shot was stopped by Gordon's leg save as the puck went into the corner. It was tied 2-2 after 60 minutes of play. Penticton was the better team in the final period. The Vipers outshot the Vees 11-10.
Overtime: Steve Weinstein's early dump in fooled Sean Bonar as Bonar went behind the net to try and stop the puck, but the puck took a funny bounce off the end boards and bounced right back out front in the crease area. Luckily no Vipers were around as the Vees cleared the zone. Penticton with a great chance as Curtis Gedig blew a tire giving Garrett Milan and Joey Laleggia a two on one, Milan was forced to shoot as Gordon made an awkward save as the puck bounced high and over the net. Some good chances at both ends. Connor Jones in close was stopped. Eric Filiou was stopped at the other end. For the second straight period I thought the Vees were the better of the two teams, Penticton looked to be a little quicker and had a little more jump at times. Some good action made for a very exciting overtime. Both benches went down to three lines in overtime. It was tied 2-2 after 80 minutes of play. Penticton outshot Vernon 18-12.
Double Overtime: Bo Dolan's point shot somehow took a funny bounce just about beating Gordon. Sahir Gill then with a great chance in front was left all alone but couldnt get the puck high and over Bonar after making an unreal glove save. The Vipers would get a great chance to end the game with a powerplay. Vernon come oh so close to ending the Vees season after Adam Thompson's point shot hit the crossbar as Penticton would do a great job on the penalty kill, killing off the minor. The Vipers looked a little better in the extra period getting a few good chances. Sahir Gill was stopped in close again as Bonar had Gills number all game. It was tied 2-2 after 100 minutes of play. The Vipers outshot the Vees 9-6.
Triple Overtime: Connor Jones & Sahir Gill with two early chances come very close to ending the game. Derik Johnson with two big blocked shots early played well in front of the net. Penticton would get a great chance with their first powerplay in overtime. Moving the puck well the Vees were being forced to the outside. Kevin Kraus come up with a big shot block but the Vipers couldnt clear the zone, as the penalty expired the Vees still with control of the puck and still in the Vipers zone managed to score the game winner. Garrett Milan tried going one way behind the Viper goal, this fooling Graeme Gordon, Milan then fed his pass back out front to a wide open Denver Manderson who had a wide open goal, as Gordon tried to make a diving save Manderson found the back of the net at 7:14 giving the Vees a huge 3-2 triple overtime victory forcing a Game 6 back in the Peach City tomorrow night. The Vipers outshot the Vees 6-3.
Top Players: (Vernon)
The line of Jonathan Milhouse (1 assist), Dylan Walchuk (1 goal) & Bryce Kakoske (1 assist) played very well before being split up as the game went on. I thought this line was one of the Vipers top lines. Kakoske & Walchuk didnt see a shift in any of the overtime periods as Mark Ferner went down to three lines.
Cole Ikkala (1 goal) Played a real strong game up front. Atleast for the first two and a half periods. Ikkala played with lots of jump, worked hard, battled hard in along the boards.
Rob Short (1 assist) Played another good game vs Penticton. Short wasnt all that physical tonight but played well for most of the game. Created some good chances as the game went on.
Graeme Gordon (44 saves) Gordon played very well and made some big saves through out tonights game, especially in the three overtime periods. Gordon may have been cheating a little on the Joey Holka game tying goal, but I wasnt really looking at him until they scored.
The line of Connor Jones, Kellen Jones & Sahir Gill had several good chances but couldnt find the back of the net. Connor with some good chances through out tonights game couldnt beat Sean Bonar. Sahir Gill had some real nice chances in almost every period but was stoned at times by Bonar.
Steve Weinstein played a solid game on the Vipers blueline. Weinstein looked very good and comfortable all night, made some nice heads up plays breaking out of his own zone as well as rushing the puck up ice.
Garrett Noonan played very well on the Vipers backend.
Top Players: (Penticton)
Sean Bonar (61 saves) Bonar made some huge saves in all three overtimes but I didnt think he played all that great. Sure he made 61 saves but this wasnt the same Sean Bonar Viper fans were use to seeing during the regular season. Give credit to Bonar for making 61 saves and giving his team a chance to win, but I thought he looked average on most of his saves tonight, other then the huge saves he was forced to make in the extra overtimes. Bonar was having troubles with his rebounds all night, letting out some pretty big rebounds. Due to making 61 saves the kid deserves a pat on the back.
Derik Johnson (1 assist) Johnson has played very well on the blueline for the Vees all series. Played a heck of a defensive game again tonight, come up with some big blocked shots through out the game.
Bo Dolan another D-man who I thought played very well tonight and all series. I thought Dolan was the Vees best d-man tonight. Had several shots from the point, wich ended up being a shot on goal or a scoring chance. This kid can move the puck, skate and really knows when to make the right play at getting the puck in. A very smart d-man.
Ryan Viselli played very well up front for Penticton. As the game went on Viselli looked stronger, and come up with his scoring chances.
Eric Filiou played well up front for the Vees. Another player who I thought played better as the game went along. Had some good chances in the overtime periods.
Joey Holka (1 goal) Was very impressive tonight, was all over the ice, carried the puck lots, was dangerous with the puck. Made some smart plays through out tonights game.
Garrett Milan (2 assists) Played another strong game for the Vees. This kid is so quick, very shifty in and around the net. One of the hardest working players on the Vees roster. Had some good chances in the extra overtime periods.
Beau Bennett (1 goal) This is the first game of this series that I have really noticed Bennett. Stood out tonight, had a few good chances, seemed to be in and around the play. Another player who had some chances in the overtimes.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
The Vipers with a 2-0 lead heading into the 3rd had this game in the bag before giving the Vees a chance to come back and tie the game to send it to overtime. Vernon was the better of the two teams in the first two periods but sat back in the 3rd giving the Vees a chance to tie the game. You have to wonder about the 3rd Vernon goal that wasnt called just a few minutes after the Vees first goal of the night. If this goal stands its 3-1 Vipers and maybe does it in for Penticton? Why didnt Grant Tyson go over and talk to the goal judge? This is what I want to know. I talked to several people who were sitting along the goal line or standing behind and above the Vees net, and everyone said the puck was in. The Vipers with several great chances in the three overtimes couldnt score on their chances. Both teams looked very tired as the game went on, you have to wonder why Bryce Kakoske and Dylan Walchuk didnt see any ice for some fresh legs? Cory Kane who didnt see any action in the first overtime started seeing some shifts in the 2nd and 3rd overtimes. Here's a game where Vernon should have won, lets hope this dosnt come back to haunt the Vipers. Will see tomorrow night how much energy and gas these kids have left.
Game Thoughts: (Penticton)
The Vees with a few good quality chances in the first two periods couldnt seem to create and generate much offence. Penticton seemed to get things going in the second half of the 2nd period but were unable to get many real good chances. Give the Vees full credit for battling hard in the 3rd to score two goals and send this game to overtime. Penticton played a heck of a game in the 3rd and was by far the better of the two teams in the 3rd and even in the first overtime. The Vees playing with some injuries were short shifting players as Matt Paltridge saw very limited icetime in the 3rd and the first overtime. Denver Manderson couldnt even finish a full shift in tonights game. Manderson & Bennett got the job done when it counted. Both players have been very quiet all series. Will the Vees have enough energy and gas left for tomorrows game? Fred Harbinson said the Vees do have some injuries, how much longer can the Vees hang on in this series? Game 6 will be a huge game as the Vees will be looking to try and forcing a Game 7 back here Sunday. Penticton now with the momentum will have to once again try and stave off emlinination.
Trevor Fitzgerald (AP)
1st Star: Denver Manderson (Scored the OT winner-1 assist)
2nd Star: Sean Bonar (61 saves)
3rd Star: Graeme Gordon (44 saves)