Crashing the crease helped the Penticton Vees whip the Vernon Vipers 5-2 in the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Entering the second period Wednesday night with a 1-0 lead, the Vees exploded for four goals in the second, starting just before the 10-minute mark when Cody DePourcq beat Austin Smith falling down after going hard towards the net. Forty seconds later, the Vees made the Vipers pay for a turnover just inside the blue line. DePourcq handed the puck to captain Brad McClure who snapped a wrist shot past Smith’s blocker side. That goal ended Smith’s night with 13 saves.
The goals didn’t stop coming. Forty-nine seconds later, Anthony Conti went full steam to the net creating chaos. Max Coatta jammed the puck in for his 12th goal of the season. Travis Blanleil made it 5-0 as he jammed a puck in from the side of the net.
“I thought once we started having some success, I think we smelled a little bit of blood in the water,” said Vees coach Fred Harbinson. “We just kept going to the net hard and things happen.”
“They have been saying that the whole year,” said DePourcq of the coaches emphasizing pressure on the net. “The middle lane drive when we’re going three-on-two … we always want to have a guy driving to the net. You look at guys like Conti and (Jack) Ramsey, some of our bigger players, they like to take the puck to the net which is very good. When you crash the net, good things happen.”
In the final frame, the crowd of 2,742 watched as the Vipers chipped away at the lead with goals by Ken Citron and Chase McMurphy. McMurphy’s goal was the result of a nice play as Demico Hannoun made a backhand pass in front of the net. It was an easy goal at the side of the net as Vees goalie Hunter Miska had no chance. Harbinson said in the final period they weren’t trying to take any chances.
“We made two mistakes and they ended up in our net,” he said. “I thought we had some good pushes after they scored.”
DePourcq, who finished with a goal and two assists along with Blanleil, said he was happy with how they played. When talking about going to the net hard, he said it has been a huge part of their game.
“It helps with our speed,” he said. “Rebounds are going to be there.”
Conti opened the scoring with a shot from a bad angle.
“I just wanted to get the puck to the net,” said Conti. When Coatta gave me that puck, I saw that little opening. Maybe this might sneak in and happily it did. He was kind of leaning off the post.”
With the win, the Vees improve to 15-5-1-2 to give them 33 points, one ahead of Merritt and Vernon.
On Friday, the Vees travel to Coquitlam for the first of a home-and-home series. The Express are third in the Mainland Division with a 10-11-0-2 record. They have lost their last two games and are 3-8-0-2 in the Poirer Sports and Leisure Centre, but are 7-3-0 on the road. Express forward Adam Rockwood is eighth in league scoring with four goals and 30 points in 22 games. Corey Mackin and Ryan Rosenthal of the Express are 19th and 20th in the league with 27 points, Mackin has 15 goals. McClure is now second in league scoring with 33 points, including 17 goals in 23 games.
Vees notes: During the second period Wednesday, Allan L. Smith won the 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier given by Huber Bannister Chevrolet from the $2 raffle. A total of $5,000 will be given to the School District 67 Breakfast Program after 2,500 tickets were sold.