The Penticton Vees snapped the Nanaimo Clippers 10-game winning streak Saturday, handing them a 4-1 loss at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Massimo Rizzo opened the scoring 11:15 into the game, heading to the crease and finding a loose puck behind the goaltender Jordan Naylor for his seventh goal of the season.
Jack Barnes was the recipient of an ugly knee-on-knee hit from Clippers defenceman Devon Mussio, who was ejected from the game and given a five-minute penalty, though the Vees were unable to capitalize on the man advantage.
Rizzo’s goal stood up as the lone one until over halfway through the third when the Vees would strike again. Just as a power play expired, Rizzo skated into the slot and fired a wrist shot that beat a screened Naylor to make it 2-0.
Less than a minute later, Luke Loheit raced through the centre and into the Clippers zone. After flipping the puck around a defender to himself, Loheit threw it to the front of the net on his backhand right to Barnes’ stick who shovelled it over the glove of Naylor to make it 3-0.
The game took a turn for the worse with three minutes remaining as Peter Muzyka had Zack Dallazzana lined up for a huge hit. Dallazzana ducked and avoided the brunt of the collision, but the Clippers didn’t like the hit and three of them charged Muzyka and jumped on top of him.
That started a fight in front of the Vees bench with Muzyka throwing punches at Connor Wetsch, who was on his first shift of the game. Both players were ejected from the game, and the Clippers ended up on the power play.
Mackenzie Merrimann ended Jack LaFontaine’s shutout bid by beating him with a wrist shot from the right circle with 2:16 remaining.
The Vees would answer back, however, as the Clippers were called for two penalties in quick succession giving Penticton a 5-on-3 power play. Lukas Sillinger jumped on the rebound of a Rizzo shot and put it into the net with 0.3 seconds remaining.
The win snapped Nanaimo’s 10-game streak and put the Vees in sole possession of first in the Interior Division over the Merritt Centennials, who didn’t play Saturday night. The Vees next game action is Wednesday in Wenatchee against the Wild.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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