The Penticton Vees have usually found a way to get the big goal to beat the Vernon Vipers in recent matchups between the Valley arch-rivals. But not this time.
Defenceman Ryan Renz was the unlikely hero with his second goal of the season early in the third period as the Vipers edged the Vees 2-1 in BCHL action in front of 1,789 fans Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Aaron Hadley had the other goal for Vernon, which beat the Vees for the first time at the SOEC since Oct. 22, 2010. Louie Nanne replied for the Vees, who suffered their first loss to Vernon in three meetings this season. The two teams do battle again this evening at 7 p.m. at the Wesbild Centre in Vernon.
Austin Smith made 26 saves for the Vipers (9-9-0-6), while Chad Katunar turned aside 24 shots for the Vees (16-7-0-2).
The Vees carried the play in a scoreless first period. Defenceman James De Haas ripped a screened point shot off the crossbar midway through, and Brad McClure was denied by Smith on a breakaway in the last minute.
Penticton continued to control the game in the second, but it was Vernon that broke through at the 7:39 mark. Katunar came out of his net to flag down a dump-in, but Hadley beat him to it and easily rounded the goaltender before depositing the puck into the open net.
The Vees appeared to have tied the game with 1:09 to go in the period, but referee Mike Boisvert ruled Smith had the puck trapped before he fell backwards into the net and had the puck carry over the line.
The Vees did finally tie it with 6.2 seconds left in the period. Nanne drove hard with speed down the left side, warded off a Vernon defenceman and shoveled the puck in on the short side with Smith anticipating a move to the forehand.
BCHL scoring leader Wade Murphy assisted on the goal and now has a point in all 20 games he's played in this season. Captain Troy Stecher had the other assist.
Vernon, however, captured the momentum to start the third period and Renz got the go-ahead goal at 4:07. After a scramble around the Vees' net, the puck squirted free to Renz who beat Katunar with a high wrist shot on the glove side.
Katunar had to make a series of big saves to keep the Vees close, most notably thwarting Adam Tambellini on a breakaway.
The Vees pulled Katunar with 1:17 to play, but any hopes of a comeback were dashed as Murphy was penalized for tripping Tambellini with 52 seconds to go.