Penticton Vees Owen Dillinger, shown here in a game earlier this season against the Merritt Centennials, scored the game winner against the Centennials on Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Western News file photo

Penticton Vees mount comeback to defeat Centennials

Vees cut a two goal deficit in the second period

Trailing the Merritt Centennials by two goals late in the second period, the Penticton Vees offence mounted a comeback to win 4-3 on Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The Centennials (16-19-2-1) opened the scoring as Brendan Schneider’s shot hit Matthew Kopperud in front of the goal, deflecting under Vees goalie Adam Scheel’s blocker. The Vees (25-9-2-2) outshot Merritt 14-9 through one period, a sign of things to come.

Penticton piled on the pressure in the second and tied things up just over two minutes in. Kenny Johnson let a shot go from the left point that was deflected by Wyatt Sloboshan in front of the goal. Jacob Berger made the save, but the puck squeaked out to the top of the crease for Massimo Rizzo to slap into an open goal.

Related: Familiar faces join Vees lineup

The Centennials regained their lead when a shot from the right wall hit a Vees defender in front and snuck under Scheel’s blocker. Three and half minutes later Merritt extended their lead when Matthieu Gosselin wired home a slap shot from the left circle just nine seconds into a power play.

The Vees ramped up their game in the final minutes. Marcus Mitchell scored for the third straight game after taking a feed from Dakota Boutin, walking down the slot and firing a wrist shot over Berger’s glove with 3:47 left.

Related: No-luck Vees continue to battle through injuries

Just 68 seconds later, Jonny Tychonick’s shot from the blue line hit a Centennials defender and landed right on Taylor Ward’s stick to shove into the open net. Ward is also riding a three-game goal scoring streak.

The Vees held a 34-15 shot advantage through two periods and would strike again early in the third. Johnson made an aggressive play at the left point in Centennials’ zone, pinching in and reaching for the puck as the opposition started skating up the ice.

Johnson was able to poke it to Ryan Sandelin, who spotted Sillinger all alone in front of the net. Sillinger faked the shot before pulling it to his backhand and beating Berger glove side to give the Vees a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

The Centennials tried to get Berger out of the net for the extra attacker as the clock ran down but could not get the puck deep enough into the Vees zone.

The Vees have now won three-straight games as they get set to welcome the Trail Smoker Eaters (25-13-3-0) to the SOEC Friday night at 7 p.m. Trail has won five of their last six, and sit one point behind the Vees in the Interior Division, though the Vees have three games in hand.

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