Michael Campoli’s second goal as a Penticton Vee with just under four minutes remaining in the game lifted the visiting Vees (32-10-2-3) to a 3-2 win over the Merritt Centennials (18-24-4-1) Friday night.
The point was his second of the period after assisting on Wyatt Sloboshan’s tying power play goal at the 3:25 mark.
Penticton swept all six meetings between the two teams this season.
The game didn’t start off great for the Vees as Merritt opened the scoring just 17 after the opening puck drop.
The Vees tried to fire the puck around the glass into the Merritt zone, but it hit a stanchion and deflected back to centre ice.
The Centennials skated into the Vees zone, threw the puck on goal and Adam Scheel made the save. The rebound came to the right-wing circle where Nick Wicks was able to fire a snapshot that beat Scheel through the five hole to open the scoring.
Nearly 10 minutes later the Cents expanded their lead. After dumping the puck into the Penticton end, Zach Court went on the forecheck and swung a no-look backhand pass to the slot from below the goal line. It landed right on the stick of Colton Gerlib in the right circle and he took a few strides in before beating Scheel glove side to make it 2-0.
The Vees got a goal back before the first was over as Taylor Ward chipped the puck to himself down the right wing before firing a wrist shot over the glove of Jacob Berger with 34 seconds left.
While the pace of play ramped up considerably in the second period, neither team could find the back of the net. The Vees best chance saw Kenny Johnson with a shorthanded breakaway out of the penalty box, but the puck rolled off his stick as he tried to pull it to his forehand around Berger.
Early in the third period the Vees went to their sixth man advantage of the night and finally capitalized. Sloboshan had the puck near the right point and faked the shot to get the defender to go down. He then cut to the middle of the ice before firing a shot past Berger’s glove with just two seconds remaining on the power play.
Sloboshan made a great play in the final minutes of the game to set up the game winner. With his teammates changing, Sloboshan held the puck in the Centennials zone waiting for his teammates to join him. He fed the puck to Campoli down the middle who fired a shot that bounced off a Centennials defender with just 3:46 to play.
The Vees did a great job limiting Merritt’s chances following the goal as Berger couldn’t get off the ice for the extra attacker until there was less than 30 seconds to play as the Vees held on for the 3-2 win.
Penticton now gets set to visit the hottest team in the BCHL Saturday night, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (22-23-3-1). After their 5-4 win over West Kelowna Friday night, Salmon Arm has now won seven games in a row.