The Vernon Vipers are one win away from advancing to the next round of the BC Hockey League playoffs.
The Vipers took a commanding 3-1 lead in their best-of- seven Interior Division semi-final with a 4-1 win over the visiting West Kelowna Warriors at Kal Tire Place.
The Warriors also lost the services of goaltender Andy Desautels who was wobbly getting to his feet and needed help getting to the dressing room.
Desautels was knocked over by Vipers forward Dexter Dancs who, while skating backwards after receiving a pass at full speed, slammed hard into the Warriors netminder.
The puck went into the net, however the goal was waived off due to incidental contact.
Desautels appeared to hit his head on the crossbar then on the ice as he fell backwards with Dancs on top of him. There was no penalty on the play.
The star goalie joins a long list of Warriors players injured in games against the Vipers over the past few weeks including forwards Seb Lloyd, Jason Cotton and Jordon Masters plus defencemen Adam Plant and Taki Pantziris.
Cody Porter came in to relieve Desautels and went the rest of the way allowing just two goals.
"It isn't an easy task to come in cold especially in the middle of a playoff series" says Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster of Porter. "He gave us a chance to win."
Colton Sparrow scored twice and added an assist for the Vipers. Liam Coughlin and T.J. Dumonceaux (into an empty net) also scored for the Vipers.
Kyler Hope scored the lone goal for the Warriors beating Austin Smith with a backhand from in close with just over four minutes left in the game.
As was the case Friday, the Warriors fell behind early but found a way to battle back and had several chances to get back into the game but were unable to beat Smith until the dying moments.
"I was proud of our guys both nights," says Ferster.
"I thought it was two gutsy efforts. Where we're at we're not going to make excuses but you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out where we're at."
Vernon opened the scoring eight minutes in. when Desautels stopped an initial shot from Brendan Persley but the rebound squired past him onto the stick of Sparrow who jabbed it into the wide open net.
Sparrow made it 2-0 with 6.7 seconds left in the first when he beat Porter high glove side on a two-on-one break.
Coughlin got the third goal on a perfect back door feed on a second period power-play before Dumonceaux sealed it into the empty net.
West Kelowna outshot the Vipers 35-26.
The Warriors will try to extend the series when they host the Vipers in game five Monday.