The Penticton Vees were putting pressure on the Merritt Centennials all night, but all the offence came in the third period in Friday’s 4-2 win over the Centennials at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
A pedestrian first period saw the game scoreless after the first period with the shots 10-6 in favour of the Vees. It wasn’t until the final five minutes of the second period that the game found it’s first goal.
While on the power play, Brad Cocca had the puck inside the right-wing face-off circle and fired a wrist shot on net that beat Vees goalie Nolan Hildebrand on the glove hand side. It was Cocca’s first career BCHL goal.
Much like Wednesday against the Langley Rivermen, the Vees were trailing 1-0 heading into the final 20 minutes, but that didn’t last long.
While shorthanded, the Vees got a 2-on-0 rush with Owen Sillinger skating down the left wing. He centred for Grant Cruikshank who quickly fired a one-timer over the glove of Jacob Berger to tie the game just 2:26 into the period.
Just over a minute later the Centennials would regain their lead. A shot from the left circle hit a stick on its way to the goal and skipped into Hildebrand’s left pad. It caught the Vees goalie off guard as he fell backwards, and the rebound was put in by Rylan Van Unen to restore the Centennials lead.
That lead didn’t last long either. Jonny Tychonick flew through the neutral zone down the right wing before backhanding a puck to the centre of the ice. Massimo Rizzo redirected it on net before finding his own rebound and putting it past Berger to tie the game just 49 seconds after Merritt’s goal.
The offence kept coming for the Vees as Ryan Sandelin fired a wrist shot over Berger’s glove 1:01 after Rizzo’s goal to give the Vees their first lead of the night.
The score would remain 3-2 Vees until the final minute of play when Dakota Boutin was able to hit the empty net with a backhand shot from the Centennials blue line to seal the 4-2 win.
The Vees head across the border to face the Wenatchee Wild (8-5-1-0) for the first time this season on Saturday. The Wild were moved into the Interior Division for this year as the two teams split the season series last season with the home team winning both times. Then the two will re-match at the SOEC on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.