Morning Star Staff
The Vernon Home Hardware Centre Vipers are in the Okanagan Mainline Midget Tier 2 Hockey League championship series.
The Vipers swept the Kelowna Rockets in straight games in the semifinals, winning 3-1 Sunday afternoon at the Capital News Centre after taking a 3-2 overtime thriller Saturday night at Civic Arena.
Vernon awaits the winner of the Salmon Arm-West Kelowna series. Salmon Arm is up 1-0 after defeating West Kelowna 3-1 Sunday.
Reed Cashato opened the scoring in game 2 finishing off a nice passing play with Carl Main and Gage Kopp.
Kelowna equalized midway through the second period before affiliate Joe Eggert buried a power play goal from Dawson Chase and Logan Imrich. Vernon kept the pressure up and were rewarded when Dex Elders buried a sweet feed from Kyle Sherwood. Jason Shaigec earned the second assit.
Conor Webb foiled the Kelowna shooters whenever they made an attempt to get back into the game.
Kelowna came out flying Saturday night and had Vernon rattled until Main buried a wrister late in the first period from Conor Johnston.
Kelowna took advantage of a bad bounce behind the Viper net and slotted the puck into the open net to level the score.
The Rockets took a 2-1 lead late into the third period before Chase picked up a friendly bounce from a Logan Imrich dump-in and beat the goalie with a one-timer, five hole, to force overtime.
Vernon came out focussed in the extra period and applied constant pressure and it paid off after 13 minutes when Nick Cherkowski converted a rebound in front from Chase and Grady Caton. Billy Cawthorn was solid in net.
In Midget Tier 3 playoff action, the Coca-Cola Vipers knocked out the Penticton Vees in two games after failing to beat them all season.
The Vipers clipped the Vees 4-3 Saturday in Summerland after winning the series opener 3-2 Friday night at Priest Valley Arena.
Zach Agar scored on a slapper from the point to open the Viper attack in Summerland.
Mika Burns tapped one home from Eggert on a beautiful 2-on-1, while d-man Cody Webb undressed a Penticton blueliner with a dangle and deke for the third goal.
Damian Coljee-Fehr supplied the winner with a tap in from Burns and Eggert. Josh Evans was outstanding with a 34-save showing.
Said Viper assistant coach Max Mowat: “The boys showed we are contenders in this league when coming together as one on the ice.”
Added head coach Sam Mowat: “Our coaching staff is so proud of these guys. They showed outstanding discipline and battled through some real adversity this weekend to find a way to win both games and wrap up the series.”
Burns, with a deuce, and Ethan Joe, on a rocket from the point, handled the offence in Game 1. Burns fired the winner with 80 seconds to play. Kieran Watts was stellar with 35 saves.
The Sun Valley Source for Sports Vipers advanced to the finals by brushing back Penticton 7-1 and 7-2.
The Sun Valley crew had a well balanced attack in both games with Nick Teale (2+1), Trevor Kennedy (2+1), Gavin Fleck, Eric Noren and Scott Gilowski supplying goals Saturday at home. Colby Feist and Drew Mackenzie each provided two assists.
On Sunday, in Penticton, Feist pocketed 3+1, while Nick Bolin added 1+2 and other goals came from Noren, Corbin Hanson and Lee Christensen. Gilowski, Teale and Lucas Wood each earned two helpers.
Vernon gets the bye to the finals where they will face the winner of the series between Kelowna and Kamloops.
The Vernon Fix Auto Vipers bowed out of the Bantam Tier 3 playoffs with an 8-3 loss to the Kamloops Blazers in Game 3 Sunday night at Memorial Arena.
Kael Black, Jacob Brewer and Kaden Doughty produced the goals in Kamloops.
The Vipers evened the series by bouncing the the Blazers 4-2 Saturday afternoon at Priest Valley Arena.
Vernon came out hard and the Blazer goalie and Vernon’s Jordan Foster both made several great saves to keep things scoreless at the ice clean.
Gavin Fleck put Vernon ahead from Cole Boyarski and defenceman-turned forward Black. Doughty made it 2-0 on a nice shot from the slot, assists going to Jacob Green and Brewer.
Vernon went up 3-0 midway through the third as Mason Robinson banged home the rebound from a point shot from Dawson Martian.
Kamloops made it interesting with two late goals before a hit from behind penalty put them one man down for the last four minutes. Doughty iced things with an empty netter.
Vernon head coach Keith Green was pleased with the team’s improvement and how they battled through injuries and played shorthanded for most of the season.
The first-place Watkin Motor Mustangs stuffed the Salmon Arm Silvertips 15-0 and 14-2 in their Pee Wee Tier 2 series.
Points were amassed by all players with a total of 40 assists. The Mustangs worked on their systems in anticipation of the upcoming Coca-Cola Classic during the Winter Carnival. The Mustangs will play the final series later in February.
Vernon opens the 45th Classic Thursday, Feb. 11 against the Glenlake Hawks of Calgary (8 a.m., Civic). The Mustangs meet the Idaho Steelheads in the feature game that same day (6 p.m.) and close preliminary play Friday, 5:30 p.m., vs the Dawson Creek Canucks.
The Nixon Wenger Vipers swept Kamloops 4-3 and 4-3 in Round 1 of the Pee Wee Tier 3 playoff series.
Chris Reinhardt and Tyler Burke sparked the offence in the opener with a goal and an assist each. Bennet Kuhnlein and Cody Beckner added goals.
Reinhardt pulled the hatty in Game 2, while Burke added a goal and an assist. Brayden Schmiegelt played stellar in net both games and the forward core, including Owen Swiscoski, Maddux Minard, Scotty Hoffman and Cash Anderson, were tenacious both ways. Vernon plays Penticton in the second round.