The Vernon Vipers are one win away from claiming their third straight Fred Page Cup as B.C. Hockey League champions.
Johnny Knisley scored his third goal of the playoffs with 6:36 remaining as the Vipers held off the Powell River Kings 4-3 before 2,139 fans Monday night at the Wesbild Centre.
Game 5 in the best-of-seven series went Tuesday night in Vernon. The Vipers clipped the Kings 1-0 on a late goal by captain David Robinson in Game 2 Saturday night on the Sunshine Coast.
Knisley fired a shot from the right corner which bounced off Powell River towering defenceman Justin DaSilva’s leg and past a startled goalie Sean Maguire.
The Vipers led 2-1 after one period and were up 3-1 until midway through the second when the Kings starting taking over the play, especially down low.
First star Malcolm Lyles scored once and set up Marcus Basara with a gorgeous one-hand pass after a spectacular rush to lead the Vipers, who won their seventh straight playoff tilt.
Cohen Adair gave the Kings a 1-0 lead 2:49 into the game on a wrister from the slot on the powerplay. Michael Zalewski outworked a defender for a loose puck after some good corner work by Darren Nowick and Knisley and beat starter Michael Garteig on a powerplay wrister.
The Vipers chased Garteig after Lyles fooled the Prince George all-star with a long, soft wrist shot from just inside the blueline with 4:50 gone in the second period. Maguire came in and saw his first minutes of the post-season.
The Kings pulled within one nine minutes later when Steven Schmidt led a three-man rush and fed Chris Williams for a gorgeous bang-bang shorthanded tally.
Powell River equalized at 5:50 of the third with 42 seconds left in a powerplay with Chad Niddery finishing a sweet play involving Andrew Pettitt and Jon Jutzi.
The Kings outshot the Vipers 33-20, including a 17-6 margin in the second period. Kirby Halcrow earned the win, his biggest stop coming with 79 seconds left in the second off Brendan Forbes in tight.
Hits-of-the-night was a Brett Corkey smackdown of the Kings’ Chad Garbowsky in open ice and a DaSilva crushing of the Vipers’ Zach McPhee against the side boards.
In Alberta, the Camrose Kodiaks shut down the visiting Spruce Grove Saints 2-0 in the Enerflex Cup. The No. 1-ranked Saints lead the series 2-1.