Each team enjoyed one night of dominance and one night they’d likely rather forget.
As a result, the West Kelowna Warriors and Vernon Vipers are all even heading to Vernon this weekend for Games 3 and 4 of the BCHL Interior Division series.
The Warriors opened the best-of-seven tilt Tuesday night at Royal LePage with a convincing 5-1 victory. On Wednesday, the Vipers responded in kind with a thorough 4-1 verdict over the Warriors to grab a split of the first two games.
“We knew from the outset whoever we were playing, the first round was going to be a tough series,” said Warriors’ head coach Rylan Ferster. “I don’t think anyone expected this to go four games. We were pretty good in Game 1, then they answered back in Game 2 and were the better team. Now we have to try and regroup and get a win in their building.”
Kelowna product Brett Mulcahy, who spent one season with the Warriors, led Vernon with a hat-trick in Wednesday’s win, while another Kelowna native, Brendan Persley, scored the other. Captain Matt Anholt had the lone marker for West Kelowna.
The Warriors, who were already a banged-up team heading into the playoffs, saw defenceman Adam Plant and forward Seb Lloyd leave the game with injuries.
Four other players missed Game 2 due to injuries—forwards Jordon Masters and Jason Cotton, and defencemen Taki Pantziris and Ryan Ivey.
“Injuries happen and when they do, it’s a chance for other players to step up,” Ferster said. “The stakes are higher, the ice becomes smaller and the battles are tougher, so we need to find a way to overcome whatever challenges we’re facing.”
Game 3 between the Warriors and Vipers is set for Friday 7 p.m. at Kal Tire Place, with Game 4 on Saturday.
“Vernon is a tough building to play in and we have our work cut out,” Ferster added. “To have success in the playoffs you have to, at some point, win on the road. We’ll need to do that this weekend.”
The fifth game will be played Monday night in West Kelowna.