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Penticton Vees top Vernon Vipers in OT, clinch 2nd round series

The Vees will battle the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the Interior Conference Finals
Thomas Pichette celebrates after scoring 42 seconds into overtime of Game No. 5 of the BCHL Playoffs’ second round at the South Okanagan Events Centre. (Photo- Cherie Morgan)

Thomas Pichette scored 42 seconds into overtime as the Penticton Vees came back to stun the Vernon Vipers 2-1 on Friday, April 26, and book their spot in the Interior Conference Finals.

Pichette grabbed the loose puck behind Vernon’s net before firing a no-look shot and beating goaltender Ethan David, who made 38 saves and held the Vees off the scoresheet until late in the third period.

The series-clinching goal came after Larry Keenan tied the game with just 1:51 left in the third period.

Penticton won the series 4-1 and will now play the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the conference finals.

“We stayed with it all night,” said Matt Miller, the Vees’ director of hockey operations. “I think that was the key…we got pucks on net, got traffic to the goal and we didn’t get frustrated. We stuck to the game plan.”

Penticton outshot Vernon 40-15, as both teams remained off the scoresheet until the third period.

Erik Pastro scored three minutes into the third period to give Vernon a 1-0 lead.

The forward’s goal held up until Keenan notched his first-career BCHL playoff goal to force overtime. The Detroit Red Wings prospect found the loose puck in the crease during a net-front scramble and slid it underneath the goaltender’s pads.

“We did a good job of pushing their [defence] back and keeping them hemmed into their own zone,” Miller said. “We knew it was going to come and it did on the six-on-five.”

Pichette, who serves as the team’s co-captain and one of two returning players from last season, scored his second of the playoffs in overtime. Callum Arnott, the Vees’ other co-captain, was credited with the assist.

Vees netminder Will Ingemann made 14 saves and recorded his fifth win of the playoffs.

Penticton has now won 11 postseason rounds in a row, dating back to 2022.

The Vees completed a sweep of the Prince George Spruce Kings in the first round of the 2024 playoffs, before downing Vernon in five games.

Friday marked the Vees’ second straight overtime game after the Vipers staved off elimination with a 3-2 win in the series’ fourth game on April 24.

Penticton will host Salmon Arm for the first game of the conference finals on Thursday, May 2.

READ MORE: Thompson Okanagan Lakers face Regina in Esso Cup women’s hockey semifinal in Vernon

About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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