DANCS DOES IT IN OVERTIME, VIPERS ADVANCE TO RBC CUP SEMIFINALS
JASON LA ROSE
VERNON, B.C. – Dexter Dancs was the overtime hero, scoring on the power play 10:17 into the extra period to give the Vernon Vipers a 3-2 win over the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots in Thursday night’s preliminary round finale, sending the host team to the semifinals at the 2014 RBC Cup.
The win means the Vipers will face the Yorkton Terriers in Saturday’s early semifinal (2 p.m. PT). It’ll be the second time the two teams face off in a national semifinal – Vernon scored a 7-5 victory in 1991.
The Dauphin Kings and Carleton Place Canadians will meet in the other semifinal (6 p.m. PT).
Dancs took a pass down low from Michael McNicholas and cut to the front of the net, sliding the puck under Toronto Lakeshore goaltender Evan Buitenhuis and setting off pandemonium at Kal Tire Place.
Brett Mulcahy and Demico Hannoun had the other goals for Vernon (2-2), which will make its ninth trip to the semifinals in 10 appearances at Canada’s National Junior A Championship, two wins from a record-setting seventh national title.
Andreas Tsogkas and Michael Prapavessis scored for Toronto Lakeshore (1-3), which saw its season come to an end after winning its first-ever Ontario Junior Hockey League and Dudley Hewitt Cup championships.
The Patriots were 7.5 seconds from defeat in regulation before Prapavessis’ power play goal forced overtime.
Buitenhuis was spectacular for Toronto Lakeshore, finishing with 43 saves. The Patriots were outshot by almost a two-to-one margin, 46-24, including 30-14 in the first two periods and 9-2 in overtime.
It was the Central Region champions who got on the board first; Tsogkas’ wrist shot from the high slot found its way through traffic and past Vernon netminder Austin Smith for a 1-0 lead.
But the Vipers would answer on a power play goal from Mulcahy, who finished off a pretty pass from Colton Sparrow to send the game to the first intermission tied 1-1.
That would be it for scoring through the 40 minutes despite the best efforts of the Vipers, who heavily outshot and out-chanced the Patriots in the first two periods.
Hannoun gave Vernon its first lead with 4:49 to go in the third, redirecting a pretty saucer pass from McNicholas over Buitenhuis’ glove, putting the Vipers on the verge of the semifinals, but Prapavessis evened the game in the dying seconds.
With Buitenhuis on the bench and Toronto Lakeshore enjoying a six-on-four advantage, a blind centering pass from Nathan Feric found its way onto the stick of the Patriots’ defenceman, who buried the tying goal.