Not unexpectedly the Penticton Vees drew first blood in the opening game of their playoff series opener with the Coquitlam Express, but it wasn’t a cakewalk.
Clinging to a one-goal lead for most the game the home team, backed by the heroic efforts of netminder Adam Scheel, had to stave off a late third period drive by the Express to win 2-1.
The 2,500 fans watched as Coquitlam fired more shots on the Penticton goalie in the last 75 seconds than the five they recorded in each of the first two periods.
With under 90 seconds to play Coquitlam pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker with face-offs in the Penticton zone.
Off the first draw the Express threw the puck at the net and Scheel had to reach to his left to make three saves before he was able to cover up.
Just seconds later off another face-off, the puck rolled right onto the stick of Wildauer who leaned into a slap shot but Scheel made the shoulder save and snared the rebound out of mid air to hold on for another face-off.
The two teams meet again Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre for a 6 p.m. start.
Jonny Tychonick opened the scoring with his first career playoff goal at the 5:40 mark of the opening frame from Taylor Ward.
After a face-off win in the Coquitlam end, Tychonick walked in from the blue line to get some room before firing a wrist shot through traffic that beat goalie Brock Hamm.
The shots would end 9-5 in favour of the Vees.
The Express tied the game less than a minute into the second after Adam Scheel and a Vees defenceman got their signals crossed behind the net.
The two players ran into each other and the Express found the puck with Scheel scrambling to his crease. William Lawrence found Christian Sanda in front and he beat Scheel through the five hole.
Jack Barnes restored the Vees lead by shovelling in a cross-crease feed from Jared Nash for his first playoff goal.
Penticton outshot the Express 16-5 in the second and 25-10 through two periods.
Coquitlam had an excellent chance to even the game after James Miller was given a five-minute major for checking from behind against Josh Wildauer.
Miller could be suspended for games two and three. Devon Mussio came in to defend Wildauer and took a two-minute penalty himself, giving the Express a three-minute man advantage once the four on four had expired.
Despite good zone time, the Express didn’t challenge Scheel often as the power play came to and end with the Vees holding off the Express to come away with the victory.
After Saturday the series shifts to Coquitlam for games Tuesday and Wednesday and if a fifth is necessary it will be back at the SOEC Friday at 7 p.m.