PHOTO: Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography
PENTICTON, B.C. – The Penticton Vees saw 4,459 fans pile into the South Okanagan Events Centre with Luc Wilson notching three points in a 4-1 victory over the Nanaimo Clippers in Game #1 of the Fred Page Cup Final on Friday night.
It was a bit of a feeling out process in the opening 10 minutes of play as both teams got their feet wet before Penticton was able to generate zone time and push the home side ahead with the game’s opening marker coming off the stick of Casey McDonald.
The Vees got the puck inside of the offensive end as Luc Wilson sent the puck to the blue line where Grayson Arnott gathered the pass and fired a shot to the front of the net that was deflected by the stick of McDonald from the edge of the right face-off circle for his 5th goal of the playoffs and a 1-0 lead at the 15:13 mark of the opening frame.
A power play helped Penticton to a two-goal lead with just over a minute and a half remaining in the opening frame. The puck was worked up top by Wilson as Ryan Hopkins hammered a shot from the mid-point that found its way through traffic and past the blocker side of Nanaimo goaltender Cooper Black for his 1st career BC Hockey League playoff goal to give the Vees a 2-0 lead heading into the 2nd period.
Just as everyone was getting settled into their seats for the middle frame, the Clippers got a fortunate bounce that got Nanaimo back into the game and cut the deficit in half. Andrew Noel dumped the puck in from centre ice that took a bounce off the left-wing corner boards that went to the front of the net as Kai Daniells backhanded a shot past the blocker side of a sliding Kaeden Lane in the Vees net to get the Clippers on the board just 8 seconds into the 2nd frame.
Following the marker, the Vees controlled the play inside of the offensive end and surrendered just three shots against in the middle period while registering 15 shots of their own and were able to get their lead back to a pair of goals with Luc Wilson collecting his 7th goal of the playoffs.
Josh Niedermayer corralled a loose puck in the neutral zone as he raced ahead on the left wing and as he dropped the puck along for Wilson as he sent a pass to the slot that went off the outside of the skate of a Clippers defender at the bottom of the circle and past the glove side of Black for his 7th goal of the playoffs at the 16:18 mark of the 2nd period to give Penticton a two-goal lead into the 3rd period.
Nanaimo earned a pair of power plays in the final period of regulation but the penalty kill stood tall to keep the Vees lead at a pair of goals before the Nadeau brothers came together and pushed Penticton ahead by a trio of goals at the 8:53 mark of the final period.
Josh Nadeau stripped the puck off a Clippers defender below the goal line and forced a pass to the front of the net where Bradly was able to battle through a check and sent the puck past the blocker side of Black for his 8th goal of the postseason at the 8:53 mark of the 3rd period to push Penticton ahead by a 4-1 score.
The Vees would keep that lead intact and took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven BCHL Final series with Kaeden Lane turning aside 19 of the 20 shots thrown his way in his 13th win of the playoffs while Cooper Black made 36 saves on 40 shots in his 1st loss of the playoffs.
FINAL SCORE: 4-1 Vees
SHOTS ON GOAL: 40-20 Vees
VEES PP: 1/4
VEES PK: 2/2
1) Luc Wilson (1-2-3)
2) Bradly Nadeau (1-1-2)
3) Josh Nadeau (0-1-1)
The Vees sit now just three wins away from a Fred Page Cup championship and will look to make it even closer as they host the Nanaimo Clippers in Game #2 of the BCHL Final on Saturday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with tickets available for purchase at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC as well as online at valleyfirsttix.com.