The West Kelowna Warriors have drawn first blood in their best-of-seven series against the Vernon Vipers to open the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.
The Warriors got a goal and two assists from Brennan Nelson to kick off their Interior Conference quarterfinals series against the Vipers with a 4-3 victory at home Friday night.
The Warriors opened the scoring half way through the first period, courtesy of Nelson, assisted by Isaiah Norlin and Christopher Duclair.
Lee Parks got the Vipers on the board minutes later, with apples to Hank Cleaves and Anthony Cliche.
The Vipers secured their first and only lead of the game early in the second period with a powerplay goal by Griffen Barr, who was spotted alone in the left face-off circle on a pass by Parks and buried a shot past the blocker side of Warriors goaltender Cayden Hamming for a 2-1 Vipers lead.
The Warriors answered back on a powerplay of their own. Jaiden Moriello fired a shot on his backhand past Vipers netminder Roan Clarke to even the score at 2-2.
Late in the second, The Warriors regained the lead with a goal by Nick Porchetta, fed by Brennan Nelson.
Early in the third period, the Warriors added to their lead with a goal by Duclair. Nelson dug the puck free and centred a pass to Duclair who fired a low shot past the leg of Clarke to give the Warriors a 4-2 advantage.
The Vipers put the pressure on in the final 10 minutes of the game, getting a goal by Hank Cleaves at the 13:07 mark of the third. Luke Pakulak had the assist.
The Vipers had a golden opportunity to tie the game, getting a powerplay with just over four minutes left in the game, but the Warriors stood tall on the penalty kill before successfully defending the six on five scenario with Clarke at the bench for the extra attacker.
Hamming stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced in the win. Clarke made 19 saves on 23 shots in his first loss of these playoffs and fourth career postseason defeat.
The Warriors now have a 1-0 series lead over the Vipers. The two teams will battle it out again for Game 2 Saturday, April 1, at Royal LePage Place. Puck drops at 7 p.m.