The Penticton Vees rang in the New Year on a winning note Wednesday, knocking off the Vernon Vipers 3-1 at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.
The first victory of the second half of the B.C. Hockey League (BCHL) season was helped along by a multi-point game from Liam Malmquist and a solid defensive effort by the entire team.
The victory leaves Penticton eight points ahead of second place Trail Smoke Eaters in the Interior Division standings.
The New Year’s Day matinee got off to a good pace with the first whistle not coming until the four-minute mark when the Vees got their first power play chance, narrowly missing opening the scoring.
David Silye had the best chance ringing a shot off the left goalpost.
Penticton finally got on the board at the 11:30 mark when Tristan Amonte netted his 10th of the season taking a left-wing, corner pass from Lukas Sillinger and snapped a shot past Vipers’ netminder James Porter Jr.’s blocker side.
A little over two minutes later the home team tied the score after a deflected shot found its way past Vees goalie Carl Stankowski.
Penticton got an early jump on the play at the start of the second and regained the lead with what proved to be the winning goal by Malmquist, his 12th of the season, knocking in a behind-the-net pass from Danny Weight.
Malmquist was in on the scoring again two minutes later, setting up Evan McIntyre for his sixth of the year for the insurance marker.
The Vees surrendered just five shots in the third period, killing off the only Vernon power play to remain perfect in the game on four penalty-killing chances.
Stankowski turned aside all but one of the 21 shots he faced for his sixth win of the season.
Weight and Sillinger are both in the league’s top 10 scoring.
The Vees (28-10-1-1) make their final trip of the regular season to the Shuswap as they face-off against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (21-15-1-1) on Friday night from the Shaw Centre.
The game will be broadcasted live on EZ Rock AM 800 as well as HockeyTV.com beginning with the pre-game show at 6:40 p.m. with the Voice of the Vees, Trevor Miller.
Penticton is back in action on home ice for the first time in 2020 on Saturday night as they play host to the Victoria Grizzlies at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Puck drop is slated for 6 p.m. with tickets available for purchase at the Valley First Box Office as well as online at ValleyFirstTix.com