Vipers even series, Warriors lose bodies
It didn't take long for the bad blood to take center stage in the Interior Division semi-final series between the West Kelowna Warriors and Vernon Vipers.
The Vipers, who set a physical tone in a game one 5-1 loss Tuesday turned it up a notch Wednesday in a dominating 4-1 win evening the best of seven series 1-1.
In the process, the Warriors lost two more players to what appeared to be serious lower body injuries.
Top defenceman Adam Plant, who had five points in Tuesday's win went out after Colton Sparrow hit Plant with a clean check along the board.
Leading scorer Seb Lloyd left late in the third after taking a knee-on-knee hit from call-up Dallas Calvin.
"It was a gutless move by an affiliated player. You can quote me on that," stated Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster after the game.
To make matters worse, fans behind the Vipers bench allege a Vernon player hit a boy in the face with the butt end of his stick after the game.
Brett Mulcahy, who spent one season with the Warriors, led the Vipers with three goals including a shorthanded empty net marker to seal the outcome late in the third.
Brendan Persley also scored for the Vipers.
Matt Anholt scored the lone goal for the Warriors.
"I thought they (Vernon) played hard tonight. I thought they played good," says Ferster.
"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."
In game one it was the Warriors that were the better team on the forecheck, the more aggressive team on loose pucks.
Wednesday, it was the other way around.
"I think they got pucks in deeper tonight. I thought they just battled a little harder than us," says Ferster.
"I thought we got out competed in the second period."
The game turned on two plays.
In the opening period with the game scoreless, Carl Hesler put the Warriors on the board with an early power-play goal.
The goal was immediately waved off and Helser sent off for slashing.
Then in the second, with the Vipers clinging to a 1-0 lead, Warriors defenceman Ryan Fraser-Lee was handed a roughing penalty on a play in which he clearly knocked the Vipers forward off the puck shoulder to shoulder.
Mulcahy scored on the ensuing power-play.
Just 30 seconds later Persley blocked a shot inside his own blue line, grabbed the loose puck, streaked down the left wing and beat Andy Desautels to the short side.
The Vipers outshot West Kelowna 35-25. They also won the special teams battle going 1-4 with the man advantage while the Warriors were 0-5.
The series now shifts to Vernon for games three and four Friday and Saturday.
The Warriors could be without as many as six players for game three.
Along with Plant and Lloyd the Warriors also played without forwards Jordon Masters and Jason Cotton and defencemen Taki Pantziris and Ryan Ivey Wednesday.
In the other interior semi-final series the Penticton Vees took a 2-0 series lead with a 6-3 win over the Merritt Centennials.
Merritt held a 3-1 lead one one point in the game before the Vees rallied for five unanswered goals. That series shifts to Merritt for game three Friday.
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