March 15, 2019 7:58 pm
Updated: March 15, 2019 8:09 pm

Junior hockey: Vipers, Smokies to clash in second round of playoffs

The Vernon Vipers and Trail Smoke Eaters will clash in the second round of the BCHL playoffs. Travis Lowe has more.

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A round-up of junior hockey teams in the Okanagan.

B.C. HOCKEY LEAGUE

Vernon vs. Trail in second-round playoff series.

Games 1 and 2 are Friday and Saturday in Vernon, 7 p.m.

When the BCHL’s playoffs started, all four Okanagan teams were taking part.

With the second round about to start, just one Okanagan team survived the first-round cull: The Vernon Vipers.

In the opening round, Vernon downed nearby rival Salmon Arm 4-1, with four of the games being one-goal decisions (2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 2-1 and 4-3 in triple overtime).

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Penticton was ousted 4-2 by Cowichan Valley, while West Kelowna was punted 4-3 by Wenatchee.

Now Vernon will face Trail in the second round. The Smoke Eaters upset Merritt 4-1 in their first-round series. Trail lost the opening game, but then won the next four – a repeat of what Vernon did.

During the regular season, Vernon (26-21-8-3) finished fourth in Interior Division standings with 63 points. Trail (23-24-8-3) placed seventh and last with 57 points.

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“I think it’s going to be a great series,” said Vipers assistant coach Kevin Krause. “Obviously Trail did a great job of taking Merritt down in five games, which is no easy task.”

On paper, this series is shaping up to be a good one. The two teams split their regular-season series three games apiece, and both teams have had a week off since their first-round series.

“We just gotta keep it simple against these guys,” said Vipers forward Matt Kowalski. “They are a good team and they have some guys that you gotta be aware of; very skilled players, so we have to shut down their top guys and just stick to the basics.”

KOOTENAY INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE

Kelowna 4, Summerland 2

The Kelowna Chiefs have taken one more step towards the Cyclone Taylor Cup.

At Rutland Arena, Devin Sutton scored twice for Kelowna as the Chiefs rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat Summerland and advance to the third round of the playoffs.

Ryan Stack and Lane Paddison also scored for Kelowna, which trailed 2-0 after the first period but led 3-2 after 40 minutes. Sutton, who scored at 12:08 of the second to make it 2-2, added an empty-net insurance marker to round out the scoring.

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The win earned Kelowna a 4-1 series win. Summerland won the series opener, 2-1, but the Chiefs won the next four, outscoring the Steam 21-6.

Bevis Chou and Lane French replied for Summerland.

Jared Breitkreuz stopped 31 of 34 shots for the Steam, while Braeden Mitchell turned aside 32 of 34 shots for the Chiefs.

Summerland was 1-for-6 on the power play while Kelowna was 2-for-6. The attendance was 482.

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The Chiefs will now face the Revelstoke Grizzlies in the Okanagan Shuswap Conference final starting Tuesday at Rutland Arena.

Revelstoke swept 100 Mile House in its second-round series, winning 4-3 in overtime, 5-0, 3-2 in overtime and 4-2.

It should be a fantastic series between the Chiefs and Grizzlies. Kelowna (43-3-1-0-2) had the league’s best record with 89 points, while Revelstoke (42-6-0-0-1) had the third best record with 85 points. Kimberley (43-4-1-0-1) had the second best record with 88 points.

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