While Tyson Jost’s peers are playing video games or watching movies on a Friday night, he keeps himself busy scoring clutch goals.
The kind that bring 2,000 people at the South Okanagan Events Centre to their feet and gives the Penticton Vees just the boost they desperately needed to defeat division rivals West Kelowna Warriors 4-3.
In a game the Vees almost let slip through their fingers, an early 2-0 lead turned into them clawing their way back down a goal, the 16-year-old Jost buried the puck late in the third to knot it 3-3.
“It was a lucky shot for me,” said Jost shrugging his shoulders of the tying goal. “The puck fell on my stick and I turned and shot.”
Maybe a little bit of horseshoes and rabbit’s feet, but also a lot of hustle and hardwork.
“By the third period we went back to what we were doing in the first, getting pucks deep and battling. We were on fire and felt like nobody could stop us,” said Jost, still visibly keyed up from the exciting finish where Riley Alferd scored the game-winner with just 19 seconds left on the clock.
Vees coach Fred Harbinson credited Jost for igniting his teammates in the third period and playing well beyond his 16 years.
“Tyson adapts to every situation, as great players do, and you can see when we were taking penalties his ice time was pulled back but he was ready to go when his number got called and made a huge play at the right time,” said Harbinson. “He is a clutch player and you can see there is a lot of good hockey ahead of him.”
Alferd, Jack Ramsey and Matthew Serratore set a tone early on as the Vees defended their spotless record on home ice. Playing divisional rivals things were bound to get a bit mucky. That trio brought their workboots digging for turnovers in the neutral zone.
Being relentless on the puck got the Vees to an early lead with a shorthanded goal by Serratore. Jost got his first of the evening on a pretty passing play that ended with the puck coming through the crease and off his skate into the net.
It wasn’t a problem out the starting gate or their finish, it was all that stuff in between that got the Vees in trouble. In particular, penalties. With a 2-0 lead, the Vees had successfully slowed down the Warriors top three gunners (Liam Blackburn, Jonathan Desbiens and Jason Cotton), who account for 54 per cent of the teams goals, but couldn’t manage them while killing penalties. The Warriors cut the lead by the end of the second period with two power play goals at the hands of Desbiens and Kristian Blumeschein. The Warriors looked to break the Vees home game winning streak jumping up 3-2 in the third period with an even-strength goal by Cole Plotnikoff, a wrister that sailed over the shoulder of Vees netminder Brendan Barry.
“We want to try and use four lines and had to cut down our bench tonight because of undisciplined penalties and I told our guys there is going to be no negotiating here. If you want to take bad penalties then you wont be playing here long,” said Harbinson. “Saying that, I thought we played a pretty good game for three-quarters of it but we got away from the compete and that is not acceptable. It will have to be better tomorrow because it will be tough going to their building.”
The Vees head up the road to West Kelowna Saturday, Oct. 11 looking to create more breathing room between them and the Warriors in the standings. The Vees currently sit atop the BCHL Interior Division, four points ahead of the Warriors and Merritt Centennials.