Penticton Vees defender Ryan O’Connell knocks the puck away from Merritt Centennials right winger Nicholas Wicks in Friday’s BCHL game in Merritt. The visitors scored a 3-2 come-from-behind overtime win. Photo courtesy Ian Webster

Vees down Merritt in overtime

Penticton Vees scored a come-from-behind win over the Merritt Centennials Friday in Merritt.

Merritt, BC: The Penticton Vees (7-0-0-1) were trailing 2-0 with under five minutes left in regulation against the Merritt Centennials (3-7-2-0) Friday night, but Jonny Tychonick got the game to overtime with two goals before Grant Cruikshank won it overtime.

Merritt goalie Jacob Berger stood on his head right from the drop of the puck, making 12 saves in the first period to keep things scoreless through 20 minutes.

After killing off the remaining 49 seconds of a penalty to start the second, the Vees went to work. Penticton was relentless on the attack, pinning Merritt in their zone for extended periods though the first 10 minutes of the period.

Against the flow of play, Merritt was able to open the scoring. After a failed clear by the Vees, Colten Gerlib stepped into a slap shot from the right circle and beat Nolan Hildebrand under the glove at 11:38 of the period.

The Vees continued to pepper Berger with shots in the third, but the Centennials goalie was equal to every task, and his team eventually rewarded him with another goal.

On a two-on-one rush, Rylan Van Unen fired a wrist shot over the glove of Hildebrand from the right circle to make it 2-0 9:01 into the third. Penticton was undeterred, however, and soon their efforts paid off.

Perhaps as expected, it took a bit of luck to solve Berger for the first time. Jonny Tychonick’s slap shot from the left point hit a stick and fluttered into the top corner over Berger’s glove to make it 2-1 with 4:46 left in regulation.

Not long after, the Vees had a goal waved off, but ended up on the power play after an unsportsmanlike penalty against Berger. Tychonick made him pay, as he wired a wrist shot from the high slot over Berger’s blocker to tie things up with 2:26 left.

In overtime, Grant Cruikshank had the puck at the right circle and had a lane to the net. With no defenders in sight, Cruikshank put a perfectly-placed wrist shot into the top corner over Berger’s glove to complete the comeback.

The Vees don’t have long to celebrate their win as they welcome the Victoria Grizzlies (7-4-0-0) to the South Okanagan Events Centre Saturday night at 6:00. The Grizzlies will be looking for a rebound performance after a 5-4 loss in Trail Friday night.

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