Interior Preview: Vipers, Vees headline semi-final match-ups
Monday, March 8, 2010 - Submitted by BCHL Media
The Interior Conference semi-finals face off Tuesday with a pair of intriguing matchups. The top-ranked Vernon Vipers begin defence of their Fred Page Cup championship against the Quesnel Millionaires, who come into the series off their recent upset of Salmon Arm. In Penticton, the heated rivalry between the Vees and Warriors will come to a head in a best-of-seven playoff series, a much-anticipated meeting which also starts Tuesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
#1 – Vernon Vipers vs. #5 – Quesnel Millionaires
Vernon: 51-6-0-3; 105 points
Quesnel: 22-32-0-6; 50 points
Recent Form: The Vipers return to the ice for the first time since their regular season finale on February 21st, but the defending champs enter the second round on an eight-game winning streak and have only lost four games in 2010. Vernon’s last defeat came on February 4th in a 3-2 overtime loss in Powell River. Quesnel, meanwhile, is fresh off a six-game quarter-final series win over Salmon Arm. The Millionaires won the opening two games on home ice before taking the last two lopsided affairs, 8-1 in Game 5 and 6-1 in a series-clinching Game 6 effort.
Head-to-Head Record: The Vipers and Millionaires faced off four times during the regular season, and Vernon took all four early-season meetings. Their last meeting, on November 7th, was won handily by the Vipers at the Quesnel Twin Arenas, where Vernon also won 9-1 on October 15th. The Millionaires, however, were able to keep it close on the road at the Wesbild Centre, dropping a 3-2 overtime affair on October 24th and losing 2-0 September 25th.
Players to Watch: Vernon boasts three lines of solid scoring, led by Connor Jones who averaged 1.6 points per game with 36 goals and 81 points despite missing nine games. Forwards Mike Collins and Braden Pimm also have the ability to make a big impact on the series after 76 and 68-point seasons for the Vipers. Quesnel’s Darick Ste-Marie was the go-to player for the Millionaires in the first round of the playoffs, leading his team with eight goals and 13 points in the six games. Netminder Kirby Halcrow, who averaged 2.67 goals-against versus Salmon Arm, will need another standout series to give Quesnel a shot to knock off the Vipers.
Game 1: Tuesday, March 9th at Vernon - 7:00 PM, Wesbild Centre
Game 2: Wednesday, March 10th at Vernon - 7:00 PM, Wesbild Centre
Game 3: Friday, March 12th at Quesnel - 7:30 PM, Quesnel Twin Arenas
Game 4: Saturday, March 13th at Quesnel - 7:30 PM, Quesnel Twin Arenas
Game 5: Monday, March 15th at Vernon - 7:00 PM, Wesbild Centre
Game 6: Tuesday, March 16th at Quesnel - 7:30 PM, Quesnel Twin Arenas
Game 7: Wednesday, March 17th at Vernon - 7:00 PM, Wesbild Centre
#2 – Penticton Vees vs. #3 – Westside Warriors
Penticton: 48-8-0-4; 100 points
Westside: 38-18-1-3; 80 points
Recent Form: The Vees and Warriors enter their second-round series on a roll after confidence-building wins to open the BCHL playoffs. The Vees became the first Interior squad to punch their ticket to the second round with a four-game sweep of the Merritt Centennials, while the Warriors pulled off four straight wins to finish off the Trail Smoke Eaters following a playoff-opening loss at home. Westside scored four goals in each of their victories and held Trail to no more than two goals. Penticton exploded for 15 goals in the final two games of the series, while holding the Centennials to only a goal in Games 3 and 4 at the Nicola Valley Arena.
Head-to-Head Record: The teams met eight times during the regular season with the Vees taking the series 5-3. After the Warriors won three of four against the Vees to start the year, Penticton bounced back to win the final four, including a 5-4 victory in the second-last regular season contest on February 19th. The Vees' four-game winning streak over Westside in the second half included a pair of road victories at Royal LePage Place.
Players to Watch: Penticton sports the BCHL’s two top scorers in captain Denver Manderson and Interior Conference Rookie of the Year Beau Bennett, who combined for 233 points this season. Manderson, who missed the final 10 games of the regular season due to injury, had a nice return in the first round against Merritt, tallying 10 points in the four game sweep. The Warriors also boast quality goal-scorers, most notably Trevor Bailey who piled up 41 goals during the regular season. Grayson Downing and Tyler Krause led the team with seven points in their five-game series with Trail, while defenseman Brendan Ellis notched three goals and two helpers in the first round. Westside and Penticton are both backstopped by tremendous goaltending; the Warriors’ Kevin Jebson (2.21) and Vees’ starter Sean Bonar (1.25) both sported solid goals-against averages in the first round of the playoffs.
Game 1: Tuesday, March 9th at Penticton - 7:05 PM, South Okanagan Events Centre
Game 2: Wednesday, March 10th at Penticton - 7:05 PM, South Okanagan Events Centre
Game 3: Friday, March 12th at Westside - 7:00 PM, Royal LePage Place
Game 4: Saturday, March 13th at Westside - 7:00 PM, Royal LePage Place
Game 5: Monday, March 15that Penticton - 7:05 PM, South Okanagan Events Centre
Game 6: Tuesday, March 16th at Westside - 7:00 PM, Royal LePage Place
Game 7: Wednesday, March 17th at Penticton - 7:05 PM, Penticton Memorial Arena