Submitted by Fraser Rodgers
The Penticton Vees finished their pre-season schedule on a high note Saturday, downing the Trail Smoke Eaters 5-2 at Trail’s Cominco Arena.
The win preserved the Vees undefeated record as they finish with five wins and one tie in six exhibition games.
Jacob Kamps, Joe Leahy, Mitch Meek, Ty Barnstable and Grant Cruikshank scored for the Vees, and goaltender Nolan Hildebrand kicked out 22 of 24 shots. The power-play didn’t cool off from Friday, as the Vees scored three more goals on six opportunities and finished with seven power-play goals in two games versus Trail this weekend.
Penticton got to work early in the first as Kamps opened the scoring four minutes in. Taylor Ward, who despite being tripped, fired a pass out of the corner to Kamps for the tap-in at the edge of the crease at 3:58. Leahy added to the lead five minutes later with a blast from the blueline past the blocker of Zach Dyment at 8:58.
The Vees kept coming in the second and the power-play didn’t slow down. On their second man-advantage, the Meek made it 3-0 when he fired a shot from the point that found its way through bodies and past Dyment at 6:49; Meek grabbing his sixth point against Trail.
Trail answered back with a power-play goal of their own but in one of the most unusual manners. An errant point-shot kicked back off the glass behind the net, bounced on top of the net, before trickling down Hildebrand’s back and in making it 3-1 at 12:25.
Penticton restored their three-goal lead before the period came to an end on a hard-working shift by Noah Jordan. The big man rumbled his way down the right wing, shrugging off a defender in the process, before cutting to the net. As he approached the crease, Jordan nudged the puck out front where Barnstable was able to shovel it across the goal line at 16:03.
Grant Cruikshank finished off his phenomenal pre-season with another power-play goal early in the third period. Cruikshank blasted a one-timer from the right wing and over the goalie’s glove at 5:06; his sixth goal in five games.
Penticton did score another one inside the final minute, but it was on the wrong goalie. On an attempted clearing attempt during a penalty-kill, a Vees defender inadvertently threw the puck back towards the net, instead of behind, and it ended up hitting the outside of Hildebrand’s leg and banking in. Troy Ring was credited with the goal.
Penticton now embarks on the regular season, which opens in Prince George to face the Spruce Kings on Sept. 10; face-off is 7 pm. Fans can listen to the game on EZ Rock AM 800, or they can watch online at www.fasthockey.com