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Penticton stakes claim to top spot while breaking Vipers’ streak

Based on their performances over the first month of the season, it seems a fair bet that the Vernon Vipers and Penticton Vees will be battling near the top of the Interior Conference standings throughout the season. But the Vees got the upper hand in the first head-to-head battle of the season on Saturday, shutting out the defending RBC Cup champs by a 2-0 score at the Wesbild Centre.

Denver Manderson was once again an offensive catalyst for the Vees, opening the scoring on an unassisted short-handed tally at the 16:58 mark of the second period. Joey Holka put home the insurance marker early in the third, and the Vipers failed to score for the first time since a they were shut out by the Vees in a playoff game on March 8, 2008.

Vees netminder Sean Bonar was full value for the shutout win, stopping 34 shots including 13 in the third period. Vipers netminder Graeme Gordon took the loss while making 13 saves.

Penticton now has a four-point lead in the Interior Conference standings, though the 7-1 Vipers do have three games in hand.

The Vipers won't have long to wait before they have a chance to get back into the win column, as they host the Burnaby Express on Sunday at 2:00 PM. Penticton, meanwhile, begins a three-game homestand on Wednesday when they welcome the Cowichan Valley Capitals to the South Okanagan Events Centre.