The Penticton Vees picked up right where they left off for the holiday break, with a hot powerplay and a win.
Grant Cruikshank cashed in twice on the Vees powerplay, as they doubled-up the Merritt Centennials 4-2 Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. He now moves into second place overall in scoring in the BCHL with his 24th and 25th goals of the season.
Read more: Vees rookie Cruickshank, the sniper
Mat Robson turned in a very good effort, stopping 32 of 34 shots and was named the game’s third star.
Henry Cleghorn and Rylan Van Unen scored for Merritt whose winless skid stretched to six-games with the loss (0-3-1-2).
Cruikshank opened the scoring midway through the first period on the game’s first powerplay. The Wisconsin product took the puck on the goal-line and from the right side of the net, quickly fired the puck underneath the pad of Jacob Berger at 11:08.
Just over a minute later the Vees ran into some penalty trouble, as the Cents’ were handed a two-man advantage for nearly 90-seconds, but the penalty-kill answered the bell, preserving the one-goal lead.
Early in the second period the Vees struck for two goals inside the first four-minutes of the frame to break the game open. Amonte made it 2-0 after he walked out from behind the net and fired a backhand up and over the goalie’s glove on the short-side at 1:39; his 12th of the season.
Penticton went back on the powerplay a short time later and again hit pay dirt. Jonny Tychonick crept down from the blue-line and then fired a dart over to Cruikshank, who hammered a one-timer from the right-wing circle at 3:54; his team-leading 10th power-play goal of the season.
Merritt got back into the game with a power-play goal from Henry Cleghorn. The Merritt forward followed the puck to the net and dove out to smack in a rebound past a sprawled Robson at 7:21.
Penticton had an answer for that goal and went back up by three early in the third period. Some great work down-low led to Ty Barnstable sliding the puck out front to Jared Nash in the crease, who forced the puck underneath Berger at 5:30; Nash scoring his second in three games to put the Vees up 4-1.
Centennials’ Rylan Van Unen scored on a breakaway to make it 4-2.
Penticton (29-6-0-1) is back in action on Wednesday, Jan. 4, as they ring in 2017 against the Trail Smoke Eaters at the SOEC; face-off is 7 p.m. It’s the first “Wicked Wednesday,” of the New Year, as tickets are just $5 for adults and seniors, and students and children (18 and under) are FREE, courtesy of Peter Bros. Construction. Tickets are available at the Valley First box office (at the SOEC).
With files from Fraser Rogers