A never-quit attitude helped the Penticton Vees defeat the Trail Smoke Eaters 4-3 in overtime Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Trail came oh so close to earning their third straight victory against the Vees, who had their initial tying goal waved off as the officials ruled Nicholas Jones was in the crease preventing Linden Marshall from being able to make a save. Owen Sillinger dashed the Smoke Eaters hopes with his 17th goal of the season on the power play with 58 second remaining in regulation.
“It was tough having that goal waved off,” said Gabe Bast, who scored the overtime winner. “We kept pushing through. We had to forget about that. Have a short memory and just keep pushing for that equalizer. We got it from Silly. Silly made a great play there.”
Bast said Sillinger’s goal provided huge momentum and added that big players make big plays.
“Sillinger really stepped up there,” said Bast. “Our guys kept fighting right to the end,” said Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson. “That’s what we talked about. I can hear our leaders on the bench saying we’re fighting right to the last second. They did.”
Bast sniped home the winner past Marshall, who finished with 45 saves, 23 seconds into the extra frame off a feed from Jones. The crowd of 2,712 went crazy as the Vees spilled onto the ice.
“It was good. It was special,” said Bast. “I haven’t played, haven’t scored in a while. It was good to get my feet back in there.”
Bast couldn’t recall how the play developed, but said, “I had a wide open back door and Jonesy made a great play.”
Harbinson said Bast was really good in his first game since Nov. 26. After shaking off the rust, Harbinson said Bast’s talent started to shine.
“He hasn’t played in a long, long time,” he said. “For him to come out and do what he did tonight is pretty impressive, pretty happy for the young man. We’re a much better hockey club when we get him involved.” The Vees have won all seven games Bast has played in this season.
When asked what that win did for the group, Harbinson said “you could just see the way they poured off the bench.”
“A lot of people started doubting them a couple of weeks back. All of a sudden now you go out and get seven of the last eight points,” he said. “They are moving in the right direction.”
In the second period, the teams traded goals and they came within 18 seconds of each other. Ty Amonte buried his 14th and Korbyn Chabot put the Smokies back ahead 18 seconds later. For the fourth straight game, the Vees hit the scoresheet first. Defenceman James Miller scored his fourth with Marshall screened. Kale Howarth struck back for the Smoke Eaters. The Smoke Eaters went ahead 2-1 shortly after when Blaine Caton fed Ryan Moon, who shot the puck past Robson’s glove side. Robson made 20 saves for his 30th win.
The teams will meet again Friday, this time at Cominco Arena in Trail. Should the Vees win, they will clinch their sixth straight BCHL Interior Division regular season title.
“It’s something special these guys want to get it done this week,” said Harbinson.