Netminder Jack LaFontaine tracks the puck in the Penticton Vees net in the first period on a Merritt Centennials scoring chance. Mark Brett/Western News

Penticton Vees cruise to victory against the Merritt Centennials

First period burst of goals lifts Vees to another BCHL win

It has been over a year since the Merritt Centennials have beaten the the Penticton Vees, and they will have to wait a bit longer.

The Vees (6-4-0) scored three times in less than three minutes to end off the first period and then cruised to a 6-2 win over the Centennials (7-6-0) Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Related: Local firm steps up to help Vees fundraiser

After the opening 10-12 minutes of the game which saw both teams have quality scoring chances, the Centennials got into penalty trouble. With Vincent Guy in the box, Vees forward Ryan Sandelin took a penalty just nine seconds later.

Lukas Sillinger took a cross-crease feed from David Silye and beat Vincent Duplessis under the glove to open the scoring while during four-on-four hockey with just under three minutes to go in the period.

Less than a minute into four-on-four, Jaydon Fetter was given a four-minute spearing penalty and then Michael Van Unen was called for slashing just 13 seconds later. The Vees offence came to life.

Related: Rookie Vees player Niedermayer following in his father’s skates

Ryan Sandelin finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play for his sixth of the year on the power play. With just seconds remaining on the clock in the period, Conner Hutchison scored his first career goal with a wrist shot through traffic on a five-on-three power play to make it 3-0 Vees after one.

Neither team scored in the second period, but the Centennials cut the lead down early in the third. After Jack LaFontaine made the save on Bradley Cocca, the rebound went right to Van Unen who fired home his seventh of the year less than two minutes into the third.

James Miller restored the Vees three-goal lead a few minutes later as the Centennials pushed at the tail end of a power play they were caught pinching at the blue line and James Miller skated in for a breakaway goal.

Hutchison wired home his second of the game with a one timer from the left point during another Vees power play to make it 5-1.

This brought out activity after the whistle and the Centennials Christian Sabin and the Vees Jack Lagerstrom dropped the gloves.

After Merritt cut the lead to 5-2 with a shorthanded goal, Miller iced the game by scoring on a two-on-one rush with 1:27 to play.

The Vees now get set to travel to Salmon Arm to play the Silverbacks (5-4-1) Friday night in the first of six meetings this season. They will return to the SOEC to face the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Saturday at 6 p.m.

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Penticton Vees Ryan Sandelin lets go a one timer that beats Merritt Centennials netminder Vincent Duplessis. Mark Brett/Western News

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