Playoff battles underway

Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association playoffs have begun with Penticton teams having early success

SALMON ARM Silvertips midget Tier 2 team defenders Jayden Dale  (front) and Matthew Gibbons prepare to block this shot by Penticton Vees forward Franky Anderson during Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association opening round playoffs at Penticton Memorial Arena Sunday. Below

SALMON ARM Silvertips midget Tier 2 team defenders Jayden Dale (front) and Matthew Gibbons prepare to block this shot by Penticton Vees forward Franky Anderson during Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association opening round playoffs at Penticton Memorial Arena Sunday. Below

Penticton Quiznos midget Tier 2 Vees are hosting this year’s provincial championship, but they still want to punch their own ticket to it.

They got past their first road block after sweeping the best-of-three series against the Salmon Arm Silvertips in Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association playoffs.

The Vees won 5-2 and 3-2 against a team that finished above them in the regular season standings. Coach Lance Vaillancourt said his team played well. In the opening game in Salmon Arm, Vaillancourt said his group executed the game plan.

“I was very happy and the score reflected that,” he said. “We’re two evenly matched teams. They were only two points ahead of us in the standings.”

In Game 1, Aiden Hutcheson scored on a setup from Sammy Gabriel and Justin Thornton. Gabriel added the Vees’ second from Thornton. Michael MacLean made it 3-0. Salmon Arm scored twice then Reid Newson bulged the twine twice. MacLean was setup by Newson, while Newson’s two goals were assisted by MacLean, Myles Thibodeau and Franky Anderson. Brandon Locket made 30 saves in net.

In the clinching game, Vaillancourt made sure his players understood the Silvertips would play desperate hockey to avoid elimination. Penticton led 2-0, but Salmon Arm battled back to tie before giving up the winning goal on the power play.

“We were lucky enough to persevere and our penalty killing was exceptional,” said Vaillancourt.

His players killed off a two-man advantage for a full two minutes as they had one player in the box serving a four-minute penalty, while another served two minutes. They also received a five-minute major in the first period.

“Special teams really played a role,” he said.

Providing the offence for the Vees were Jesse Keylock and Thibodeau. Thibodeau’s second goal buried the Silvertips with three minutes left. Locket made 28 saves.

Up next for the Vees is Kamloops, who finished the season tied with Penticton at 3-11-2.

“If we play our game, and execute what we have been working on then we will be successful,” said Vaillancourt. “We’ve maintained all year that we were a better team than the standings have shown. We’re hosting provincials this year, and it’s a goal of mine and the team that, even though we are already there as a host, that we win our way in.”

In peewee action, the Penticton’s Sherwood Trophy tier 2 team eliminated Kamloops in two games, 7-3 and 6-2. Coach Greg Berkholtz said his team was a bit shaky in the opening game. The goaltending of Caleb Rousseau kept them in as he was forced to stop six breakaways.

“Our team in general … they just don’t quit,” said Berkholtz. “They just keep going and going. Eventually we started scoring. Kind of took over control of the game. In the second game, defensively we were way better. They took a bunch of penalties and we capitalized on the power play.”

Owen Labadie, Cam Davie, Nolan Walton, Brenden Patton, Matthew Rempe, Noah Johnson and Ben Hoefler scored with assists going to Kieran Mielke, Patton, Rempe, Walton, Riley Hilton, Reid Bateman and Xavier Roepcke.

In the clinching game, with Kaleb McEachern in goal, Davie potted a hat trick, while Hoefler scored twice and Mielke added a single. Collecting assists were Carson Shortreed with three, Nolan Walton with two and Davie, Mielke and Bateman added an assist each.

The Vees face Salmon Arm in round two. Salmon Arm finished six points ahead of the Vees in the OMAHA standings.

“It will be a tough series,” said Berkholtz. “They are kind of the same team as us. Not a whole lot of talent, just really hard working. It should be a good series.”

The Penticton Murray GM Vees bantam Tier 2 team swept past Greater Vernon with identical scores of 9-0. The Vees peewee Tier 3 and bantam Tier 3 teams were knocked out by West Kelowna and Merritt, respectively. The peewee Tier 3 team defeated West Kelowna 7-6 at Jim Lind Arena, then lost the next two 4-2 at Memorial Arena and 7-2 back at Jim Lind. The bantam Tier 3 Vees lost 5-2 and 5-3.

In the OMAHA midget rec super league playoffs, it was Penticton Team 1 White Kennedy Vees defeating Penticton #3 7-2 and 3-2 to win the opening round best-of-three. Gunnar Fulton sniped a hat trick for Penticton #1, with Wes Rasmussen and Erik Hoglund adding two, Isaac Moffatt , Zak Sproule and Donovan Abbott scored singles. Scoring for Penticton 3 was Carter Gabriel with two goals , Josh Borren and Nolan Aubie .

Penticton team 2 lost to Kelowna team 2, 11-0 in kelowna and 5-4 at Memorial Arena.

In South Central atom rec, Penticton team 2 swept Princeton, 9-2 and 11-4. Penticton team 3 swept West Kelowna team 2, 4-2 and 11-0. Penticton easily handled South Okanagan 14-1 and 12-1. Penticton team 4 defeated West Kelowna 4-3 and 2-1.

In South Central peewee action, Penticton team 2 lost to West Kelowna team 4, 8-2 at Royal LePage Place, then bounced back to defat West Kelowna 5-2 at McLaren Arena in Penticton. The deciding game was scheduled for Feb. 4 at RLP.

Chase defeated Penticton in female midget rec 2-1 at Memorial Arena. Game two is in Chase Feb. 8. Game 3 if necessary comes back to Memorial Arena on Feb. 9.