West Kelowna's comeback from a 3-0 deficit fell short in playoff loss to Vernon

Bad start hampers Warriors

It's game on in the BCHL's Interior Conference quarter-final between the West Kelowna Warriors and Vernon Vipers.

The Vipers took advantage of a quick start Saturday, building a 3-0 first period lead then hanging on for a 5-4 victory at Royal LePage Place to even the best-of-seven series at a game apiece and wrestle home ice advantage away from the Warriors.

Much like the opening game Friday the Vipers took charge from the opening faceoff, controlling much of the play in the Warriors end of the rink. But, unlike Friday, they were able to take advantage, building a 3-0 lead and a decided edge in shots and puck possession.

It looked as if the Warriors might be able to feed off the partisan crowd when they were able to kill off a lengthy two man advantage early thanks to a pair of spectacular saves off a backdoor one-timer then the rebound.

But, a deflection off a point shot by Thomas Tien that the Warriors thought may have been directed in with a high stick got the Vipers on the board at 4:48.

Then, two quick goals late in the period from Connor Welsh on a power play and Tien just 15 seconds later put the Vipers up three.

Brennan Nelson got one of those back on a Warriors power play with six seconds left on a backdoor one timer to give the team, and the building some life going into the second.

"That's something we're really going to have to look at going into game three, our starts. We;ve got to be better, we can't start a game the way we did tonight," said assistant coach Josh Gorges.

"Get behind like that and think we are going to climb back every game."

The Warriors were better in the early going of the second but it was the Vipers power play that went two-for-seven on the night that re-established a three goal lead.

It was also the Warriors power play, which clicked on three of five chances in the hard hitting, penalty that let them stay within striking distance.

Chris Duclair with his second of the series with a wrist shot from the left circle that went post and in and Isaiah Norlin with a shot glove side that beat a screened Ethan David brought the Warriors to within a goal after 40.

But, they were unable to get any closer.

Lee Parks again gave the Vipers a two goal cushion early in the third before Jaiden Moriello cut the deficit to one as he circled to the high slot and sent a shot that again alluded a screened Ethan David.

That was as close as they would get.

Despite allowing five goals, Hamming was spectacular, keeping the Warriors in it. He made a sensational toe save off a backdoor one-timer late in the second, stoned them on a two-on-one early in the third then denied Julian Facchinelli on a two-man breakaway with the Warriors down just a goal.

"The goals against...I don't think he saw any of them. They were all shots out wide from screens.

"But the saves he did make when we needed them...OH...he was big tonight. We'll need him to keep doing that but we need to do a better job in front of him."

Gorges says moving forward in the series, the Warriors need to dictate the play, something they didn't do enough of Saturday, especially early.

"You have to push the pace, you have to be the ones taking charge of the game and try to make them react to you.

"I thought early we were just waiting to see what would happen and reacting to them. You can't play hockey that way."

The series now shifts to Vernon for games three and four next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Gorges says the team will take the next two days to work on some things and make some adjustments but adds heading on the road may not be a bad thing right now.

"And, sometimes playing on the road is a good thing. You don't have anyone you have to impress, you just go out there and play hockey.

"Their fans will be into it, they'll be emotional, they'll come out flying, but we just go out and play hockey."

A fifth game in the series will be back at Royal LePage Place next Friday.

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