The Penticton Vees (24-9-2-2) got back to basics with some good, old fashioned, hard hitting hockey to win their second game in as many nights Saturday, 5-2 over the Wenatchee Wild (25-12-2-1).
The Vees were outplayed in the opening 20 minutes, but turned things around in the middle frame with three unanswered goals in front of an appreciative packed house at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Despite being outshot 16-6 over the opening 20 minutes, the Vees found themselves tied with the Wild after the first.
Jared Nash opened the scoring by banking the puck off Austin Park and into the net with four and a half minutes left in the period.
Wenatchee tied things up with just 1:26 left as Josh Arnold stepped around a Vees defender and slid the puck through Adam Scheel’s five hole while falling to the ice.
The Vees looked like a completely different team in the second period, holding the Wild to just six shots. Massimo Rizzo showed off his vision just over eight minutes in as he sent a backhand, no-look pass from the left circle to a wide open Taylor Ward to tap into an open goal.
Just over two minutes later Cole Shepard skated down the right wing into the Wild zone on a four-on-two rush. He fired the puck into the middle for Jordan Henderson who fired a shot into the top corner over Park’s glove for his second of the year. Park was lifted in favour of Seth Eisele after the goal.
Marcus Mitchell capped off the scoring in the period with a power-play goal in the final minutes. He shovelled a bouncing puck to the net that rode up the arm of Eisele and into the net for his 10th of the season.
Mitchell then dropped the gloves with Murphy Stratton and centre ice halfway through the third period, getting the nearly 3,300 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre fired up.
Wenatchee added a late goal with AJ Vanderbeck scoring on a rebound with just 1:42 left in the third period, but Rizzo hit the empty net to cap off a three-point night and help the Vees beat the Wild for the first time this season.
Penticton now gets set to host the Merritt Centennials Wednesday night at the SOEC. More reinforcements are on the way for the Vees as well, as Owen Sillinger has served his two-game suspension and Chris Klack is ready to return to game action. He has been out since early November after suffering an injury in practice.