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Junior hockey: Vees facing elimination, Warriors level series

The BCHL playoffs are well underway, and all four Okanagan teams were in action on Wednesday night. West Kelowna tied its series, Penticton is on the verge of elimination and Vernon is threatening to bounce Salmon Arm from the post-season.

A roundup of Okanagan teams in the B.C. Hockey League.

Penticton (1) vs. Cowichan Valley (cross-over). Capitals lead series 3-1.

The Penticton Vees had a fantastic regular season, with 37 wins in 58 games and 79 points, second only to the league-leading Chilliwack Chiefs.

The Vees’ playoff season, though, is in shambles.

The Cowichan Valley Capitals blanked the Interior Division pennant winners 3-0 in Game 4 on Wednesday, and now hold a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The first-round set resumes with Game 5 in Penticton on Saturday at 6 p.m. – a must-win scenario for the Vees.

On Wednesday, Pierce Diamond posted the shutout by turning aside all 27 Penticton shots. At the other end, Jack LaFontaine stopped 24 of 26 shots for the Vees.

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Paul Selleck, Preston Brodziak and Vincent Millette scored for Cowichan Valley, which led 1-0 and 2-0 at the breaks. Both teams were 0-for-3 on the power play.

In Game 3 on Tuesday night in Duncan, the Capitals edged the visiting Vees 3-2 in overtime to take a 2-1 series lead.

Should Penticton win Game 5 on Saturday, Game 6 will take place Monday, 7 p.m. in Duncan. Game 7 is scheduled for Wednesday in Penticton.

Wenatchee (3) vs. West Kelowna (6). Series tied 2-2.

The West Kelowna Warriors celebrated a huge 2-1 overtime win over the Wenatchee Wild on Wednesday night, battling back from a 6-2 shellacking on Tuesday to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2.

At Royal LePage Place, Wenatchee opened the scoring in Game 4, Lucas Sowder at 16:12 of the first period.

The second was scoreless, but the third wasn’t, with Parm Dhaliwal netting the game-tying goal at 5:24. Lucas Bah and Chase Dubois earned assists on Dhaliwal’s second marker of the playoffs, a redirected point shot.

In overtime, Dhaliwal scored again, ending the game at 11:38 and levelling the series at 2-2.

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“Everyone stuck to the game plan; no one put their heads down,” said Dhaliwal. “We’re just calm in the room and just sticking to the game plan.”

“They really took it to our top guys tonight,” said Warriors head coach Brandon West. “We just kept battling through it and Parm found a way to get to net and he was able to put it home.”

Cal Sandquist stopped 31 of 33 shots for Wenatchee, with Connor Hopkins stopping 39 of 40 shots for West Kelowna. The Wild were 0-for-2 on the power play while the Warriors were 0-for-5.

The series, now a best-of-three affair, resumes Friday with Game 5 at Royal LePage Place. The series has a 2-3-3 setting. Game 6 is scheduled for Sunday, March 10 in Wenatchee. Game 7, if needed, will go Monday, also in Wenatchee.

Vernon (4) vs. Salmon Arm (5). Vipers lead series 3-1.

The Vernon Vipers are on the verge of eliminating the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

In Game 4 on Wednesday, the Vipers posted a 2-1 road victory to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. On Monday, in Game 3, Vernon also won 2-1, albeit in overtime. Notably, the Vipers won Game 2 by a 2-1 overtime score.

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In Game 4, Matt Kowalski opened the scoring at 1:25 of the first period to give Vernon an early 1-0 lead. Kowalski also scored in the second, at 5:56, to make it 2-0. Andy Stevens replied for Salmon Arm at 14:52 of the third to round out the scoring.

Aidan Porter stopped 24 of 25 shots for Vernon, with Ethan Langenegger turning aside 37 of 39 shots for Salmon Arm. The Vipers were 1-for-6 on the power play while the Silverbacks were 0-for-4.

Around the BCHL

In other BCHL playoff action, the Langley Rivermen hold a stunning 3-1 lead over Chilliwack. The Chiefs had the league’s best record (42-15-1-0) and most points (85). Langley (27-27-2-2, 58 pts.) finished well back of Chilliwack in Mainland Division standings in fourth place.

On Tuesday, the Chiefs staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory in Game 4. Entering that contest, Langley held a 3-0 series lead with wins of 5-4, 3-2 and 5-0. Game 5 is Thursday night, 7 p.m. in Chilliwack.

Victoria swept Alberni Valley 4-0, Powell River is up 3-1 against Nanaimo, Prince George holds a 3-1 lead against Coquitlam and Trail is up 3-1 against Merritt.