It took the Vernon Vipers about 10 minutes to shake off 16 days of rust. After that, the Quesnel Millionaires didn’t really have much of a say in Game 1 of the best-of-seven B.C. Hockey League Interior Conference semifinal.
The Vipers got two goals apiece from veteran forwards Robbie Short and Braden Pimm (first and second star respectively) on the way to a 6-2 win before 1,900 fans Tuesday night at Wesbild Centre.
Game 2 goes Wednesday night at Wesbild, after which the series heads north for Games 3 and 4, Friday and Saturday night at the Vault.
The Mills showed good jump early, taking the lead on Taylor Holst’s third goal of the playoffs. He cashed in the rebound off Trever Hertz’s original shot.
That seemed to perk the Vipers up a bit because less than a minute later Short tipped in Kevin Kraus’s point shot to equalize.
After that, Vernon started to pressure Quesnel’s defence with a stifling cycle, then opened up a 46-shot barrage on netminder Kirby Halcrow. Cory Kane (third star) and Curtis Gedig, each with a goal and assist, completed the Viper attack.
Chris Kerr was the only other Millionaire to beat Graeme Gordon (12 saves), chipping a puck over the Vernon keeper after a turnover in the corner at 7:08 of the third period.
“It took us a bit of time to get going, but then things started to click,” said Kane, an Irvine Calif. product. “We won all the (regular-season) games against them, but they picked up a bunch of new guys (via trade) and obviously they were playing pretty well so you’ve got to respect your opponent.”
Said Mills’ head coach Glen Watson: “We started off OK, but then their speed just took over. A team with that kind of speed, you’ve got to be able to slow it down and play a patient game.”
Meanwhile, in the other Interior semi, Denver Manderson collected the winner on the powerplay as the Penticton Vees brushed back the Westside Warriors 3-1 to take Game 1 Tuesday night at South Okanagan Events Centre.
Vees’ rookie Beau Bennett pocketed the insurance goal on a powerplay midway through the third period.
Check out the Friday edition of The Morning Star for in depth coverage of Game 2.