Penticton Vees (6-1-0-1) (44-9-3-2, 1st in Interior)
Vernon Vipers (5-1-0-1) (36-18-1-3, 2nd in Interior)
GM 4 Venue: Kal-Tire Place
GM 4 Face-Off: 7pm
Season Series: Oct 17th 3-1 Vees, Oct 25th 1-0 Vees, Nov 14th 4-2 Vees, Dec 5th 4-3 Vees, Jan 2nd 3-0 Vees, Feb 11th 2-1 Vipers, Feb 27th 3-2 Vees.
Playoff Series Schedule
Game 1: 4-3 Vees (2 OT)
Game 2: 5-2 Vees
Game 3: 5-2 Vipers
Game 4: March 18th (Kal-Tire Place) 7pm
Game 5 March 20th (SOEC) 7pm
Game 6* March 21st (Kal-Tire Place) 6pm
Game 7* March 22nd (SOEC) 6pm
* If necessary
The Penticton Vees now look for a split in Vernon but more importantly a 3-1 series lead in game four of their Interior Division Final. The Vees scored twice inside the first four-minutes of Tuesday’s game but surrendered five unanswered in a 5-2 game three loss at Kal-Tire Place.
Connor Chartier and Steen Cooper got the Vees ahead early with goals three-minutes apart but the Vipers rallied late in the opening frame, scoring three times in just three and a half minutes. Riley Brandt, Thomas Aldworth and Luke Shiplo (power-play) scored for the Vipers, as they took a 3-2 lead into the intermission.
Liam Coughlin and Colton McCarthy salted the game away with two second period goals, the Vipers nabbing their first win of the series.
Tonight is another “swing game,” as this series can take on two drastically different looks depending on the outcome of game four. Vees win and they have a 3-1 series lead going back to Penticton on Friday night for game five. If the Vipers win, the series is tied 2-2 and it’s a best-of-three starting on Friday at the SOEC.
Last time the Vees lost in Vernon was in game four of last year’s Interior Division Final and that too was by a 5-2 score. Last night snapped a four-game win streak in Vernon dating back to March 18th, 2014.
If history is any indication, the Vees know how to shake off a bad loss. They were 9-2-0-0 in the regular season coming off a loss, and after their only loss of the post-season they rattled off six straight wins. In those 11 regular season games, the Vees outscored their opponents 41-24 and held them to two or less goals in eight of the 11 games.
That Vernon top-line came to life in game three, as Liam Coughlin and Thomas Aldworth combined for a pair of goals and six points; they were held pointless in game two. More impressive considering Liam Finlay, their regular season scoring leader, was a late scratch after warm-up.
There was some good roster news for the Vipers however; Danny Todosychuk started game three after being sidelined with an injury since game one against Merritt in round one.
In regards to the Vees line-up, don’t expect any significant changes, if there is any from game three. Hunter Miska will start and look to bounce back after an off night Tuesday.
What to Watch For
- Bounce Back: The Vees were 9-2-0-0 in the regular season when coming off a loss and after their only other loss in the playoffs, they won six straight, from game two against West-K to game two against Vernon. In the regular season they outscored the opposition 41-24 in those 11 games and in eight of them, they held the opposition to two or less goals. The Vees have proven the can shrug off a loss and come back with a strong performance the next time out. Can they put last night’s disappointing loss behind them and refocus for game four? The big carrot that dangles in front of them is a 3-1 series lead, with the opportunity to closeout the series at home on Friday. Can the seize the opportunity?
- Masked Man: Does Hunter Miska bounce back after a sub-par performance for his standards? The teams MVP, the BCHL’s top goaltender, had an off night on Tuesday but he’s a veteran and so competitive, you expect him to be lights-out tonight. Even after surrendering four goals, his numbers are still fantastic, as he sports a goals-against under two and a save-percentage of .935. Knowing Miska, knowing how badly he wants to win, he’ll be dialed in game four. Vernon will be confident, they’ll come out swinging and will the Vees puck-stopper be ready to swing back? I remember him in game three against West Kelowna, being outstanding in the three overtimes after a so-so showing in regulation. Look for him to be at his best tonight.
- Want: How bad do the Vees want to win tonight? Assistant Coach Steve Cawley didn’t like his team’s compete level in game three and it will need to be drastically better in game four. The Vees will need to “out-compete” the Vipers tonight if they’re going to pick up a 3-1 series lead. They will need to be better along the boards, in the corners and in front of the Vipers net; time to roll up the sleeves. We saw the Vees play with fire in games one and two and it’s not a coincidence they won both. At this juncture of the season, it’s no secret how you’re going to win in the playoffs. It’s about going to those tough, “dirty areas” and getting to second and third chances. The Vees need to recapture that spark they had in the first two games of this series.
- Carrying Over Momentum: The Vipers got back in this series with a big come from behind win in game three. They shook off some early nerves and erased a 2-0 deficit and won 5-2. The arena was dead quiet after the Vees scored twice early (outside of traveling Vees fans), but the Vipers got their fans and the building going after that late first period rally. Can the Vipers continue to harness that wave of momentum and steer it into a game four win? Vernon will have some confidence after that type of win and will be likely be coming out of the blocks running. Do they try to jump on the Vees early and put the visitors on their heels? Can they string back-to-back home wins together and tie the series?
- Front Running: The Vipers top-line, two-thirds of it anyway, was rolling on Tuesday, as Liam Coughlin and Thomas Aldworth combined for six points, but now the scoring seems to have been adjusted. Regardless, those two had a big impact in game three and the Vees had a hard time keeping the two wingers at bay. The Vipers will need another big performance out of their top-line if they’re going to tie this series. Can the likes of Coughlin and Aldworth put their fingerprints all over game four? Or can the Vees find a way to shut down the Vipers top guns?
- Man Between the Pipes: Focus will be on both starting goaltenders but for opposite reasons. The Vees want a bounce back performance from Hunter Miska, but the Vipers want more of the same from Danny Todosychuk. He fought some early game jitters and really came into his own in the final two periods. Heck, his second period paddle save on Cam Amantea is making the rounds on Twitter and the internet. Todosychuk, to me, still doesn’t look 100 percent but he’s battling through it and turned in a very strong performance in game three. Can he repeat that tonight?