The Vernon Vipers are a win away from advancing to the B.C. Hockey League’s Interior Division final.
The Vipers took a commanding three games to one lead in their opening round best-of-seven series with a 4-1 win over the West Kelowna Warriors in front of 1,377 fans at Kal Tire Place Saturday night.
Colton Sparrow scored twice and set up a Liam Coughlin powerplay marker for the Vipers, who enjoyed period leads of 2-0 and 3-0.
Kylar Hope lived up to his name and gave the Warriors hope with a backhand shot from the slot over Vernon goalie Austin Smith’s glove at 15:49 of the third.
The Warriors came within inches of pulling to within a goal just seconds later but Smith was able to dive on a puck that was heading into the open net.
TJ Dumonceaux iced the game for the Vipers with an empty-net marker at 19:06.
Already missing six regulars, things got worse for the Warriors 14 minutes into the first period when starting goalie Andy Desautels was injured in a goalmouth collision with Vernon forward Dexter Dancs.
Desautels was seen having problems getting to and staying on his feet. He left the game with what the team described as an upper-body injury and did not return.
Cody Porter, 16, was pressed into duty for the Warriors and could not be faulted on the two goals he gave up. Sparrow’s second was finishing off a two-on-one with Brett Mulcahy, while Coughlin tapped in a goalmouth pass from Sparrow on a Vernon powerplay midway through the second period.
West Kelowna outshot the Vipers 35-26, including 14-4 in the final frame.
Game five in the series goes Monday night at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna. Game six, if necessary, would be back at Kal Tire Place Tuesday night.
The winner of the series will play the Penticton Vees in the divisional final. The Vees beat Merritt 4-3 Saturday to sweep the Centennials in four games.