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Vees showing no quit, make second comeback win against Vernon
UPDATE — The Vernon Vipers defeated the Penticton Vees 5-2 Tuesday night to even the BCHL Interior Division final at 2-2.
Brendan Persley opened the scoring in Vernon's Kal Tire Place at 7:59 of the first period on a setup by Josh Bryan and Brett Mulcahy. Vees forward Nicolas Pierog tied it less than five minutes later on the power-play with Brett Beauvais and Jarod Hilderman collecting assists. Riley Alferd then gave the Vees a 2-1 lead 7:39 into the second period on a play started by Matt Serratore and Jack Ramsey. At 16:43, Riley Guenther got the Vipers back in it with a 2-2 goal and Michael McNicholas tallied the winner 1:40 later.
The Vipers added two more past Vees goalie Olivier Mantha by Colton Sparrow and Persley. Mantha finished with 32 saves, while Austin Smith stopped 27 for the win.
Vees coach Fred Harbinson said the Vipers came out hard. The Vees were outshot 14-6 in the opening period. In the second, it flipped as the Vees fired 14 shots at Smith, while Mantha faced nine. Harbinson said his players responded and things were going in the right direction until they gave up the two late goals.
"That gave them the momentum for the third," he said. "They are a good team ... and they are going to make their plays. Unfortunately, they made more than us last night.
With it being a best-of-three series now, Harbinson said they have to take the approach of Game 5 on Thursday being the most critical of the year.
"Hopefully we have a huge crowd to get the guys energized," he said. "We got to feed off it. Play hard on the puck for 60 minutes. Both teams have learned in this series that if you take a few minutes off it can change drastic momentum of the game."
Cody DePourcq came up big for the Penticton Vees in Game 3.
The Penticton Minor Hockey Association product helped the Vees erase a Vernon Vipers 3-1 lead and take the third game of the BCHL’s Interior Division final at Vernon’s Kal Tire Place, 4-3 for a 2-1 series lead.
Never shy to battle along the boards and take a hit, the 5-6, 160-pound forward (as listed on the BCHL website) won a battle behind the Vipers net. DePourcq then did a wraparound and tucked the puck past the outstretched Austin Smith to knot the game 3-3 with 4:27 remaining in the third period.
“You can always count on him coming out of the corners,” said Vees captain Brad McClure, who collected an assist on the goal. “He’s got a heart of gold. You have to expect that from him.”
“He’s a great example for what really matters,” said Harbinson. “You could be the biggest guy in the world, but if you don’t have the heart, you’re in trouble. This kid is the complete opposite. He’s not very big, but he’s got a massive heart. You could see he was very determined. I had actually thought he had lost the puck. All of a sudden he kicked it back up to his stick and made the play. Energized our group.”
The Vees’ winning tally came from Matt Serratore, who also scored their first goal. McClure started the play from behind the Vipers net and circled to the front where he fired a shot at the top of the slot area. It bounced off a Viper leg and right to Serratore, who banged it home.
Harbinson said that Serratore plays hard all the time. While he only scored five goals in the regular season, the Vees coach said he was second or third in grade A chances.
“He got the ones to go tonight for him,” said Harbinson of Serratore’s third playoff goal. “I’m really happy for him because he plays really hard.”
Things didn’t start well for the Vees who found themselves behind 1:43 into the game when TJ Dumonceaux tucked a shot under Miska. Serratore tied it less than three minutes later, but the Vipers got goals from Brendan Persley and Brett Mulcahy to end Miska’s night after three goals on seven shots in the opening 10 minutes. Once Harbinson pulled Miska in favour of Mantha, who saved all 12 shots he faced, it sparked a turnaround.
“We’ve had good goaltending all year. When one guy has a rough night, we need to pick him up,” said McClure. “That’s what the boys did tonight.”
McClure said the Vees did get a momentum boost from killing off a four-minute penalty for high sticking on Dumonceaux given to McClure, who wasn’t sure if he touched him.
“You see a lot of guys, they are throwing it all on the line to block shots,” said McClure. “That gets guys pumped up to score a goal for them. That’s what some guys did, they stepped up tonight.”
Both McClure and Vees coach Fred Harbinson called it a character win. Harbinson said big mistakes his team made were costly and he credited the Vipers for coming out strong.
“They came out guns a-blazing, which we warned our guys they would,” said Harbinson. “It just seemed liked every mistake we made ended up in the back of the net. We had a couple of posts we hit in the first period. Luckily for us it was only 3-1. We kind of reset between the first and second. From then on I thought we were really good.”
Vipers captain Ryan Renz said the loss stung.
“When they’re playing from behind they are coming with a lot of speed,” he said.
Dumonceaux said the Vees just didn’t quit.
“Their top players were top players. That’s the difference,” he said. “Our top players, they had good games but I think they can give us more.”
In completing the comeback, the Vees outshot the Vipers 8-4 in the third period and 33-19 in total. Game 5 will be at the SOEC on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Vees notes: Shane McColgan and Ben Dalpe missed Game 3 and 4 due to injuries. In their place the Vees inserted Josh Blanchard, making his playoff debut and affiliate player Mitch Newsome of the Valley West Hawks in the B.C. Major Midget League. Harbinson said that Newsome was outstanding. “You get nervous as far as not knowing systems. We did a little crash course before the game. I thought he passed with more than flying colours. Really happy with what we saw tonight from him.”
The Vees are also without Cam Amantea and Harbinson said they are waiting to see about the health of the trio.
"It's not about the guys that aren't in the lineup, it's about the guys that are in the lineup that need to get the job done," said Harbinson. "We found a way to get it done in Game 3, let it slip on us in Game 4. I'm confident in the boys in the lineup will be ready to go and get it done in Game 5."