The Penticton Vees have a 1-0 lead in their Interior Division series against the West Kelowna Warriors thanks to their power play.
Warriors captain Kyle Marino said the challenge they faced Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre was the Vees man advantage, which struck three times on five chances in a 5-1 win.
“We pushed the pace well. Played both ends of the ice well,” said Marino. “Just got to stay out of the box.”
After Easton Brodzinski set up Scott Conway, the second star, to give the Vees a 1-0 lead 1:29 in the game, he and Nicholas Jones set up Conway again for his seventh of the playoffs. After taking a feed from Brodzinski, Conway skated to the centre of the slot and wired a wrist shot just inside the post top corner past Matthew Greenfield’s glove hand. That goal, on the power play, proved to be the winner.
“We played good. We brought some energy to the building,” said Brodzinski, named the game’s first star. “The fans helped us out. It was a good turn out for fans and it was a good turnout for us.”
The Vees, playing in front of a crowd of 2,550 including a group of Warrior supporters, led 2-0 after one, then 2-1 after two. The Warriors scored the lone goal in the middle frame. At 11:52 Connor Sodergren redirected the puck past Zachary Driscoll as he skated by the net. That was the first goal Driscoll allowed in nearly 90 minutes of action. He shutout Vernon in the deciding game in the first round. He finished with 18 saves. Eight seconds after that goal, Sodergren received a four-minute penalty for head-butting.
In the third period, the Vees completely shutdown the Warriors who managed just three shots on goal. They put the game away when Brodzinski buried that came out front of the crease past Greenfield, who wasn’t in position. Then with Rylan Yaremko in the box for cross-checking, Tyson Jost, the third star, made it 4-1 as he shovelled a rebound past Greenfield into the top of the net. Owen Sillinger scored the Vees final goal on the power play when he beat Greenfield on what appeared to be a partially screened wrist shot through his glove side. That ended his night with 19 saves. Keenan Williams faced one shot in 4:48 of action.
Brodzinski, who had a three-point night and was named to the BCHL’s all-rookie team, said it was a good win.
“It’s good to win by a few goals but we still got a series ahead of us,” he said. “We don’t really think about it (the margin of victory) too much.”
Marino said the effort was there for the Warriors and liked how they played. He and Vees forward Luke Voltin received 10 minute misconducts for exchanging words at the face-off circle a couple of times following Sillinger’s goal.
Not in the lineup for the Vees was goalie Anthony Brodeur, forward Benjamin Brar and defenceman Gabe Bast and Domenic Masellis.
Game 2 is at the SOEC on Saturday at 6 p.m.