April 4, 2019
The Vernon Vipers are one win away from securing a spot in the BCHL Fred Page Cup championship series, after shutting out the Wenatchee Wild 3-0 last night.
A goal each period and 16 saves by Aidan Porter were the keys to the Vipers home ice win that gives Vernon a 3-1 series lead in the Interior Conference final.
Matt Kowalski’s goal at 8:10 of the first period proved to be all the offensive support Porter would need on the night and Connor Marritt added insurance on the power play in the second.
Rounding out the scoring in the third period was Josh Latta whose unassisted tally was the final mark on the scoresheet.
Porter’s 16 saves earned him his first shutout of the playoffs after posting four in the regular season.
Shots finished 25-16 for the Vipers.
The Vipers came out strong in the first period carrying the play for the first few shifts. Matt Kowalski nearly converted on an odd man rush, but narrowly missed the net. Aidan Porter wasn’t tested often in the period, but his first shot against came from a good look from AJ Hodges but Porter flashed the left pad.
The Vipers opened the scoring after a Judson point shot was blocked in front, but the rebound found Matt Kowalski and he tucked in the loose puck to make it 1-0. The Vipers were then thrust into a PK situation and Connor Marritt had two glorious opportunities on that kill, but couldn’t beat Austin Park. Teddy Wooding would get another good look later in the period, but again couldn’t beat Park as the period ended 1-0 in Vernon’s favour.
The second period was a frame that had a lot of things happening, but not much in the way of shots as the two teams would total just 11 shots in the middle period combined.
Ben Sanderson came close to giving the Vipers a two goal lead early in the period, but couldn’t find the back of the goal. Wenatchee went back on a powerplay but as it has at home this post season, the PK was stellar killing it off very effectively.
Soon it was the Vipers turn on the powerplay and they’d convert as a Michael Young slap shot kicked loose to Connor Marritt at the side of the net and he slammed home the 2-0 goal. More chances for the Vipers but Austin Park was up to the challenge turning aside the remainder of Vernon’s chances. Wenatchee’s best chance of the period came to Marko Reifenberger, but Aidan Porter made his best of the night to keep his team up by a pair after 40 minutes.
In the third, the Wild pushed as expected and carried the play for a number of minutes. The Vipers bent, but didn’t break, then went on the attack. The Vipers outshot the Wild in the final period and really did a nice job of not sitting on the lead.
Porter was strong when called upon and the Wild had difficulties getting pucks to the goal. With Austin Park on the bench for the extra attacker, Josh Latta would bury one into the empty net to give the Vipers a 3-0 win and a 3-1 series lead.
The shutout follows a 7-2 Vipers win at home on Tuesday night. In that game, the Wild outshot the Vipers 28-20.
The series resumes Friday at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee. If nccessary, game six will be played Sunday in Vernon, with game seven, Tuesday in Wenatchee.
The Interior Conference winner will meet Prince George Spruce Kings in the Championship series. The Spruce Kings defeated the Victoria Grizzlies 3-2 in OT Tuesday, to complete a four game sweep – the first three games were all won by PG 4-2.