Denver Manderson scored once and added two assists as the Penticton Vees smothered the Vernon Vipers 4-0 in B.C. Hockey League playoff action Tuesday night before 1,882 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The teams meet again Wednesday night in Penticton with Vernon leading the best-of-seven Interior Conference championship series 2-1 Game 5 goes Friday night in Vernon.
Penticton scored on their first shot at 5:52 when defenceman Matt Paltridge fooled Viper goalie Graeme Gordon with a seeing-eye wrister from the right point. Manderson drew the assist.
Six minutes later, Manderson carried the puck deep in the slot, and with defenceman Dan Nycholat angling him to the ice, made a nifty back pass to an untouched Jake Johnson, who easily found the open net
The Vipers outshot the Vees 15-11 in the opening period with Nycholat’s point shot going off the left post behind goalie Sean Bonar and curling outwards before being cleared.
Cole Ikkala went through Bonar, knocking his mask off before backhanding the puck into the net 26 seconds after Johnson’s goal. Ikkala celebrated briefly before referee Jim Maniago waved the goal off and assessed Ikkala a minor penalty for goaltender interference.
Third star Ryan Visseli outmuscled a pair of Vipers against the corner boards and banked a shot in off Vernon captain Kevin Kraus’s skate past a startled Gordon 2:48 into the second period.
The Vipers outshot the Vees 13-6 in a yawner third period, but Bonar, who earned first star with 37 saves, rarely gave up a rebound on several hard perimeter shots.
The Vipers pulled Gordon for a sixth attacker with 2:15 remaining and worked the puck around nicely for a solid minute before Manderson picked up a loose puck at the Vees’ blue line and cruised in for an empty-netter with 71 seconds to go.
Penticton, whose hit-of-the-night was a Beau Bennett smackdown of Stevie Weinstein, is now 6-0 at home during the playoffs.