I was at last nights Interior Conference Finals Game 6 as Vernon defeated Penticton 4-1 in front of 2,221 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Vernon: Graeme Gordon
Penticton: Sean Bonar
1st Period: Jonathan Milhouse with a good chance in the first few minutes was stopped after Sean Bonar made a nice save. Vernon carried the play real early before Garrett Milan setup Eric Filiou who was untouched in front of the goal to beat Graeme Gordon at 4:05 giving Penticton the all important first goal of the hockey game. Milan & Hayden Trupp with the assists. Just over a minute after the goal the Vipers would jump on the game's first powerplay and make the Vees pay. Dan Nycholat's point shot beat Sean Bonar at 5:29 tying the game 1-1. Mike Collins & Braden Pimm with the assists. Back come the Vees as Bo Dolan's screened point shot somehow just missed the net, Eric Filiou come close after being stopped by Gordon. Penticton would then get their first powerplay of the night but it was the Vipers who had the better chances. Cory Kane would cut towards the goal, going in alone but was stopped by Bonar. Kellen Jones then ragged some valuable time off the clock with some hard work along the end boards as Vernon would kill off the minor. The Vipers with a great chance missed on a two one as Connor Jones couldnt hit the net. Logan Johnston's shot was tipped in front but somehow stopped by Gordon. Mike Collins then setup Braden Pimm who beat Bonar shortside at 16:19 giving Vernon a 2-1 lead. Collins with the lone helper. A fairly even opening period but it was Vernon that had the better scoring chances. The Vees would get a late powerplay before the period come to an end but were unable to capitalize. The Vipers with a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play. Vernon outshot Penticton 14-13.
2nd Period: Sahir Gill with a great chance to put Vernon up by two goals was stopped on an early breakaway after Sean Bonar shut the door. Shortly after Connor Jones was stopped by the glove of Sean Bonar. With the Vipers on the powerplay Adam Thompson beat Bonar at 4:24 gave Vernon a 3-1 lead. Dan Nycholat & Mike Collins with the assists. The Vipers really took over the 2nd period and were by far the better of the two teams. Vernon used their strong forecheck most of the period to try and ware down the Vees. Rob Short & Cole Ikkala on a two on one, Short was forced to shoot but couldnt beat Bonar after making a nice save. The Vees would then get into penalty trouble in the 2nd taking some undisaplined penalties. Kellen Jones then put the Vipers up 4-1 on the two man advantage at 9:04 Jones goal was unassisted. Derik Johnson would pick up a 10 minute misconduct after banging his stick along the boards after the Jones goal. The Vipers were unable to capitalize on the second powerplay as the Vees killed off the minor. Connor Jones, Kellen Jones & Steve Weinstein on a three on two couldnt beat Bonar, back come the Vees on the fly with a two on one but Andrew Pickering wired his shot off the crossbar. This was the Vees only real good quality scoring chance as Vernon dominated the period. Penticton would sustain a good attack after Curtis Gedig lost his stick in his own end but the Vipers defence did a great job at keeping the Vees to the outside and not really allowing them with a good scoring chance. The Vipers did a great job at shutting down the Vees offence and really limiting their chances. Penticton would get a late powerplay wich would carry over into the 3rd period. The Vipers were up 4-1 after 40 minutes of play. Vernon outshot Penticton 12-5.
3rd Period: The Vipers would kill off the remainder of the penalty and now just get the puck in deep on almost every chance they had. The Vipers playing dump and chase hockey for most of the 3rd really shut down Penticton come the final period. The Vees had all kinds of troubles early to try and generate any kind of offence. The Vipers with no real quality scoring chances just got the play in deep and then forechecked down low trying to kill off as much time off the clock as possible. The Vees managed to get a few good chances in close but Graeme Gordon was their to make the save. Penticton with very few chances couldnt seem to get much of anything going with their season on the line. Gordon was forced to make one big save with traffic in front but in the end the Vipers did a great job at shutting down the Vees with a complete game picking up a big 4-1 victory winning the Interior Conference Championship for the second year in a row and the first time repeating as Interior Conference Champions since 2002-2003. Vernon was outshot 12-4.
Top Players: (Vernon)
The line of Braden Pimm (1 goal & 1 assist), David Robinson & Mike Collins (3 assists) played very well tonight. Pimm & Collins who have struggled so far in this series come up with a huge night.
Dan Nycholat (1 assist) Played a solid game on the Vernon blueline. What can you say about the play from Dan Nycholat in these playoffs. Nycholat has been the Vipers best d-man and showed why again tonight.
Adam Thompson (1 goal) Also played a solid game on the backend. Thompson really played well tonight.
Graeme Gordon (29 saves) What can you say about Graeme Gordon, fans were wondering if Gordon could get the job done. Gordon played a heck of a series shutting out the Vees twice. Gordon looked very calm and confident between the pipes tonight. Didnt see a whole lot of action but made the saves when needed too.
Top Players: (Penticton)
Ryan Viselli with a few chances in tonights game played well. This kid always battled hard and wasnt afraid to go into the grey area's. Played a good game for the Vees tonight.
Eric Filiou (1 goal) Filiou opened the scoring for the Vees as well as come up with a few other good chances. Another Penticton player who battled hard and competed all series.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
After blowing a 2-0 lead heading into the 3rd period in Game 5 the Vipers shutdown the Vees tonight playing probally their best game of these playoffs in a complete 4-1 victory. The Vipers played very well tonight, looked very good in almost all area's. Some very crisp passing, looked very strong on the powerplay (3-4) and penalty kill. Didnt give up any turnovers. I thought Vernon did a great job at shutting down Penticton's offence, keeping the Vees to the outside and limiting their chances. The defence played very well tonight. The Vipers scored on their chances and took advantage of the powerplay. Vernon was by far the better of the two teams and it showed tonight. Nice to see a big crowd of Viper fans come down for the game tonight and make alot of noise. Id like to take this time to thank and congratulate the Vernon Vipers on winning back to back Interior Conference Championships. All the best vs Powell River.
Game Thoughts: (Penticton)
After a huge 3-2 triple overtime win in Game 5 I really was thinking we were going to see a Game 7. The Vees got the all important first goal but were unable to generate anymore offence. The Vees with some undisaplined penalties were unable to shutdown the Vipers. Giving up two powerplay goals in the 2nd period really cost the Vees the game. Just like in Game 4 where Vernon scored two powerplay goals to open the game up and really put the game away. The Vees with just a handfull of real quality chances were no match for the Vipers tonight. Penticton battled hard but in the end couldnt compete with the Vipers. The Vees just didnt have the energy or gas left in the 3rd to mount any kind of a comeback. Give Penticton full credit for battling hard and forcing a Game 6. Rumors were going around all series the Vees have several players either injured or playing injured, that must be very tough to still try and compete and battle like they did. Id like to take this time to thank & congradulate the Penticton Vees on one heck of a season. This is by far the best Penticton hockey team I have ever watched over the years. To all the graduating players or players that wont be back next season, thanks for some great games and great memories adding to this great rivarly. I wish you all the best in your hockey careers or future.
Trevor Fitzgerald (AP)
1st Star: Graeme Gordon (29 saves)
2nd Star: Dan Nycholat (1 assist)
3rd Star: Braden Pimm (1 goal & 1 assist)