The Vernon Vipers grabbed an early 3-0 lead and held on to clip the Penticton Vees 4-3 in B.C. Hockey League play Saturday night before 2,100 fans at Kal Tire Place.
It was the Vipers’ final home game of the regular season. They play the Trail Smoke Eaters Wednesday night and meet the Merritt Centennials Saturday, March 1 to finish their schedule.
Just who the Snakes (30-16-4-6) will face in the opening playoff round remains to be determined. The West Kelowna Warriors grounded the Smokies 5-2 behind two goals from Detroit Red Wing draft David Pope Saturday night, moving into a share of first place with Penticton in the Interior Division. Both teams have two games remaining.
Vernon, who will finish third and play the second-place team in round 1, got goals from defencemen Ryan Renz, 81 seconds in, and Josh Bryan, and another from winger Brendan Persely (first star with 1+1) to go up 3-0 midway through the first period.
Renz was assessed a double minor high sticking after drawing blood on Shane McColgan late in the first period and the Vees responded with Brad McClure and McColgan recording powerplays snipes 71 seconds apart early in the second.
TJ Dumonceaux, who enjoyed a high-energy weekend getting first-line minutes with some key Vipers in the press box, made it 4-2 at 10:40 of the second. He banged in a rebound from in tight with Michael McNicholas and Bryan drawing assists.
The Vees (34-16-2-4) pressed hard in the third and pulled within a goal when Cody DePourcq connected 5:38 into the third. The Vipers, who ran with 10 forwards, hung on and got some stellar netminding from Danny Todosychuk the rest of the way.
The Vees outshot the Vipers 36-26 with Olivier Mantha taking the loss. Penticton won the season series 5-2.
Please see Wednesday’s Morning Star for more Viper coverage.