PENTICTON, BC – The Penticton Vees will be fighting for their playoff lives this weekend as they now trail the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 2-0 in their Interior Conference Semi-Final, after a 3-2 loss on home ice.
The Silverbacks scored twice in the third period to erase a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes held by the home team. Despite outshooting the Silverbacks 83-46 in the first two games, the Vees find themselves down two games to an opportunistic Shuswap squad.
Brendan O’Donnell and Logan Johnston each had a goal and an assist in the loss, as they clicked for a pair of second period tallies on the man-advantage, but it wasn’t enough for the Vees to even the series.
Kris Moore was spectacular again as he stopped 40 of 42 shots and was named the first star of the game for the second consecutive night for the visitors.
Mike Hammond continued with his hot play in the series as early in Game 2 he set up Brad Reid for the game’s first goal at the 18:04 of the opening period. After 20 minutes it was 1-0 Silverbacks and Hammond had recorded four points in just four periods against the Vees.
The Vees would equalize and then take the lead in the second frame as Brendan O’Donnell scored at the 2:55 mark set up by Logan Johnston and Joey Benik on a power play. The goal was O’Donnell’s first of the post season and squared the match at a goal apiece.
The Vees would take the lead – their first of the series – at 8:23 when Brendan O’Donnell returned the earlier favour of Logan Johnston by setting up the Pentiton product for his fourth of the post season on another power play. The Vees would head to the locker room up 2-1 with a period to play.
In the final frame, Bryce Gervais was awarded a penalty shot on a short handed breakaway, and made no mistake as he roofed a shot from the hash marks after hitting the brakes.
Four-on-four the Silverbacks would get a puck out to neutral ice just as Kevin Mills stepped out of the penalty box, sending him in on a partial break. The 20-year-old rearguard made no mistake on the opportunity as he gave the Silverbacks the game winner with a shot that found the back of the net. A dejected crowd of 1,250 sat in disbelief as the visitors hung on for the win, with an empty net behind the Vees.
The Vees would finish the night with two power play markers on six opportunities, while the ‘backs would score once on four opportunities up a man.
Moore was spectacular again for the Silverbacks, again, making 40 saves for the second straight night, while Joel Rumpel was strong but allowed three goals on 24 shots against.
The Vees will head on the road and look to exact revenge on the Silverbacks this weekend, and will have to do so without the services of one of their best. Mark MacMillan remains out indefinitely with an upper body injury sustained in the first round. There is no timetable for his return.
Next action from this Interior Conference Semi-Finals comes on Friday and Saturday from Salmon Arm as the Silverbacks host Games 3 and 4 at the Sunwave Centre. Game 5 is slated for Penticton on Monday night.
You can purchase Vees playoff tickets at the SOEC box office during regular business hours, or head to ValleyFirstTix.com to buy online.