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Vipers level playoff series at 1-1
Morning Star Staff
With so much on the line, hockey playoff carnage is inevitable.
After two games in a best-of-seven B.C. Hockey League series, the West Kelowna Warriors came out the worst as the Vernon Vipers squared things with a 4-1 win Wednesday night before 760 fans at Royal LePage Place.
Game 3 goes tonight at Kal Tire Place and the Warriors may be without top defenceman Adam Plant and high-scoring Seb Lloyd, who were both injured in West Kelowna. The Warriors stuffed the Snakes 5-1 in the opener Tuesday night.
Viper veteran Colton Sparrow knocked Plant out of Game 3 with a crushing, clean hit along the wall midway through the second period. Affiliate Dallas Calvin caught Lloyd with a knee-on-knee hit with three minutes remaining. Lloyd, the Warriors’ leading pointgetter, also needed to be helped off.
“Both teams were giving it and taking it,” said Vernon head coach Jason Williamson. “If their guy (Lloyd) isn’t hurt on the play, there is no penalty called. It’s unfortunate for them.”
The Vipers got all their offence from the Sparrow-Brett Mulcahy-Brendan Persley line with Mulcahy completing the hat trick with an empty netter, shorthanded, with 1:48 left.
“I thought they played hard tonight,” said Warriors’ coach Rylan Ferster, on the team’s website. “I thought they played good. They came out like a team that wanted it a little bit more tonight. They battled hard and did what they had to do to get the win.”
Mulcahy, a Kelowna product, says the series has definitely amped up, but it’s not like the teams have a major hate-on for one another.
“It’s just playoffs,” he said. “The intensity rises and the level of competition has escalated.”
After giving up five powerplay goals (Plant earned 2+3) in the series opener, the Vipers played disciplined hockey in Game 2 and outshot the Warriors 35-25.
“We were pretty relaxed in the second game,” said Mulcahy. “Game 1 was the first playoff game, or the first in a long time, for a lot of guys. Playoffs are a whole different beast and we were pretty tentative and nervous. In Game 2, everyone was rolling and the guys looked really comfortable.”
Mulcahy said the Vipers made a couple of small adjustments to their penalty kill which was perfect on five Warrior chances in Game 2.
Mulcahy opened the scoring Wednesday, beating Andy Desautels low after a turnover in the high slot, with five minutes left in the first period. Mulcahy made it 2-0 on an early powerplay in the second frame, burying a rebound of a Josh Bryan point shot.
Just 30 seconds later, Persley beat Desautels low, blocker side on a partial breakaway after blocking a Ben Tegtmeyer shot.
Matt Anholt replied for the Warriors two minutes later when he dug a rebound past Viper goalie Austin Smith. Shortly after, Plant was hit by Sparrow.
Nathan Craft colliding with Smith behind the Viper net with 20 seconds to play. Michael Statchuk dropping the gloves in defence of his goaltender, taking a decision over Craft, who took the instigator penalty.
It seemed like West Kelowna’s powerplay would come through again when Carl Hesler wacked in a loose puck seven minutes into play. However, Hesler was called for slashing on the play, negating the goal.
“They were short a few bodies and we took advantage,” said Williamson. “They’re (Mulcahy’s line) all 20 and they’ve been there before so they know what do to. Everybody in our lineup had a good night.”
With Harvard Crimson Tide commits Plant and Lloyd suffering injuries, the Warriors could have six regulars on injured reserve tonight. Ryan Ivey, Taki Pantziris, Jordan Masters, and Jason Cotton all missed Game 2.
In the opener, Lloyd (2) and Hesler (1+2 also supplied goals for West Kelowna, who outshot Vernon 44-28. TJ Dumonceaux buried a Ken Citron rebound early in the third for the Vipers.
Tyler Povelofskie ran Desautels with three seconds left, earning a game misconduct.
Cotton, the Warriors’ second top scorer, limped off the ice after a second-period collision with Viper captain Ryan Renz and didn’t return.
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