The Vernon Vipers didn't wait long to put their stamp on the 2009 edition of the Fred Page Cup Finals, scoring three first period goals in the span of 3:53 en route to a 4-0 series opening win in Powell River.
Sahir Gill, Connor Jones and James Kerr had put the Vipers ahead by three just 11:41 into the initial frame after outshooting the Kings 11-6. Kyle Bigos netted Vernon's fourth goal on a late second period power-play to cap the scoring.
Bigos was named the game's first star, while netminder Andrew Hammond -- who picked up his third shutout in his last five postseason games -- grabbed second star honours. Kevin Kraus contributed a pair of assists in the win.
Kings netminder Carsen Chubak turned aside 28 shots in a losing effort. His teammates put just 23 shots on Hammond -- including only three in the third period -- while being blanked on the scoreboard for the first time since Game 3 of the Mainland Division Finals.
Powell River can take some solace in knowing that they poured on the offence to the tune of 31 goals in their next six playoff games following that shutout loss. But whether they look on the bright side or not, the Coastal champs will have less than 24 hours to prepare for a crucial Game 2 matchup. Another loss on Saturday night would send the series back to Vernon with the Vipers up two games and holding the opportunity to clinch the Fred Page Cup on home ice.
Tomorrow night's game faces off at 7:30 PM from the Powell River Recreation Centre.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)