With a 2-0 win against the West Kelowna Warriors Friday night, the Vernon Vipers are moving on to the Okanagan Cup Finals.
The win meant redemption for the Vipers, who have trailed the Warriors in the Okanagan Cup standings for most of the pre-season while losing all four previous head-to-head matchups.
The eventual game-winning goal came midway through the first period, when JoJo Tanaka-Campbell pounced on a moment of indecision between Warriors goaltender Johnny Derrick and his defenceman to tally his fourth goal of the exhibition tournament.
The Vipers played shutdown hockey from that point on, with help from a stellar penalty killing unit that held all five West Kelowna powerplays scoreless, while generating a couple odd-man rushes of their own.
The Vipers’ stifling defence got some help from goaltender Koen MacInnes in the third period. MacInnes was making his third start in net for the Vipers since being loaned from the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League in late October. He stopped all 31 shots he faced to earn the shutout, bringing his goals against average to 1.62 — fourth best in BCHL exhibition play.
Cam MacDonald snapped home an empty net goal to seal the victory, but not before things got heated in the final seconds, resulting in 10 players on each side receiving misconduct penalties.
The Vipers will play the Penticton Vees for the Okanagan Cup title tonight (Nov. 14) at 6 p.m. in the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The Vees flew past the Salmon Arm Silverbacks by a score of 5-2 in semi-final action Friday night. Connor Bouchard notched his first two goals of the Okanagan Cup and added an assist, while Matteo Costantini had a productive night with three helpers. Vees goaltender Yaniv Perets rounded out the three stars with his 35 saves on 37 shots.
Penticton has lost just one game in exhibition play so far and have outscored their opponents 62-21 in that stretch.
The Vipers and Vees met twice last weekend, with Penticton winning both contests by scores of 4-0 and 6-3.