Vernon Vipers are one win away from moving on to the next round of the BC

Warriors behind the 8-ball

Every now and then, your goaltender has to win you a hockey game.

Ethan David did that for the Vernon Vipers on Friday night.

David turned away 31 shots, including several Grade A chances during the first 40 minutes, in leading the Vipers to a 2-1 victory over the West Kelowna Warriors before a loud sellout crowd of more than 1,500 at Royal LePage Place.

David, who blanked the Warriors 7-0 in game four on Wednesday, hadn't allowed a goal since Jaiden Moriello's power play goal at 4:56 of the second period of game three.

Fittingly, it was Moriello who snapped David's shutout streak at 133 minutes and 24 seconds when he beat the 19-year-old late in the second period.

The Warriors, who have struggled with slow starts throughout the series, took the play to the Vipers during much of the first 40 minutes, forcing David into some key saves to keep his team in it.

"I thought all game we played well, we carried the pace and played in their zone. They chip it out and chip it out and try to wear you down, but I thought we did a lot of really good things...we just didn't get the final goal," said head coach Simon Ferguson.

"It came down to one blocked shot and one battle at the net. I thought we needed to do a better job at getting to the net ourselves but, in saying that, they had some big saves and so did we on that end as well."

Against the run of play, the Vipers hit the board first.

Reagan Milburn put himself in a perfect spot to tip home Ayden Third's wrist shot from the left point to give the Vipers the lead eight minutes in.

Just moments earlier, Chris Duclair used his speed to chase down a loose puck and sent himself in on a partial breakaway. He deked forehand/backhand, but David was able to stretch out his left leg and get his toe on it.

Later in the period, with the Warriors shorthanded, Duclair again used his speed to get behind the defence, but again, David was there to keep it a one-goal game.

Moriello appeared to get the equalizer 14 minutes into the second just seconds into a power play, but the whistle blew just as the puck entered the net for a high-sticking penalty that negated the goal and the power play.

Moriello finally ended David's shutout streak and got the Warriors on the board with less than two minutes left in the second.

He powered his way to the front of the net off the left wing and got a shot away that David appeared to stop initially. However, the puck's momentum seemed to carry it into the net for the game-tying goal.

The Vipers were the better team in the third, shutting down the Warriors for the most part and being opportunistic as they have been for much of the series.

With the Warriors hemmed into their own end, Cayden Hamming stopped an initial shot, but Ethan Merner, playing his first game of the series, pounced on the rebound and beat Hamming with what proved to be the game-winner.

The Vipers held the Warriors to just five shots in the decisive third period, which included a late six-on-four power play with Hamming on the bench for an extra attacker.

The Warriors, who were relatively healthy entering the series, were again shorthanded in game five with forwards Felix Caron and Brennan Nelson and defenceman Landen Hilditch all unavailable for the game.

The Warriors' season will be on the line when the two teams hook up again for game six of the series Sunday evening at Kal Tire Place.

A Warriors win would extend the series to a seventh and deciding game back at Royal LePage Place next Tuesday night.

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