The Vernon Vipers were in control from the first shift as they beat the Wenatchee Wild 8-3 Friday, March 6, to advance to the second round of the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.
The Vipers will now play the division-winning Penticton Vees in a best-of-seven Interior Conference semifinal. Games 1 and 2 go Friday, March 13, and Saturday, March 14, at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The Vipers will host the Vees for Game 3 and 4 on March 16 and 18at Kal Tire Place. The puck will drop on home ice at 7 p.m.
Rookie winger Cameron MacDonald had four points and defenceman Hunter Donohoe scored two goals in the fifth and deciding game of the first-round series at the Town Toyota Center in Washington.
The Snakes wasted no time getting the scoring frenzy started.
Just 23 seconds into the game, Logan Cash intercepted a puck and scored through the five-hole of Daniel Chenard for an early 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later, MacDonald won a battle deep in the Wenatchee zone and found Donohoe, whose point shot made its way through traffic and into the back of the net.
After hitting a goal post on their first powerplay of the game, the Vipers needed only five seconds of their second man-advantage opportunity for MacDonald to find the twine off a one-timer. McDonald’s fourth goal in as many periods boosted the lead to 3-0.
The period ended 3-1 after Wenatchee’s Nick Cafarelli scored at the 16-minute mark, though the home team could have pulled closer if not for Vipers goaltender Reilly Herbst stopping all six shots on a Wild powerplay.
The Wild got an early second-period goal from Matt Dorsey to pull them within one, but halfway through the frame, Colby Feist restored the two-goal lead, assisted by Nicholas Kent.
With 20 minutes left to prolong their season, the Wild couldn’t match the Vipers’ firepower in the third. Connor Marritt scored half a minute in and Trey Taylor added a goal at the six-minute mark. The Vipers would add two late goals as MacDonald and Donohoe double-dipped on the score sheet.
While his team gave him plenty of scoring support, Herbst had a quiet and strong game — especially early on when the score was closer. He was named the second star of the game after 21 saves on 24 shots.
The other Interior Conference semifinal will see the Trail Smoke Eaters take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.