A 3-2 win for the Penticton Vees against the Trail Smoke Eaters at the South Okanagan Events Centre didn’t look promising early.
Facing the last place team in the Interior Division, the Vees found themselves trailing 2-0 while outshooting the Smoke Eaters while the clocked ticked near the end of second frame.
Vees forward Jack Ramsey admitted it wasn’t the start they wanted.
“We found a way to win. We had 20 minutes, we went into the third down and we just found a way,” said Ramsey.
It started with Ben Dalpe, who took advantage of a mistake to blast a shot by Adam Todd with 12 seconds remaining in the second period.
The Vees then got to Todd early in the third as defenceman Blake Butzow made the first pass that led to Ramsey’s equalizer.
“I was just in the right spot at the right time,” said Ramsey. “Blake Butzow made a great pass to (Anthony) Conti. He had his head up and made a perfect pass to me. I just did the rest.”
Ramsey beat Todd, who made 36 saves, with a backhand move that went through the five-hole. Ramsey said he planned to go there.
“It trickled in. I was scared he stopped it for a second,” said Ramsey. “I was pretty excited about it.”
With three goals in his last five games, Ramsey said it’s feeling easier to score and it comes down to confidence.
“I feel like we keep talking about it, it’s a good thing,” he said. “Confidence, it’s going up. My play I think is going up, too.”
The winning tally didn’t come until the last five minutes of the third. Cody DePourcq sprung Matthew Serratore, who fired a shot that beat Todd high on his blocker side.
While Ramsey said that Dalpe’s goal was huge, he believes it was another play that lifted the team.
“I think it all started with Paddy Sexton’s fight,” said Ramsey of the tilt with Scott Davidson with three minutes remaining in the second period. “He’s a big character guy on our team. Off and on the ice. He stepped up and answered the bell.”
One of the differences to Vees coach Fred Harbinson in his team’s play was pressuring the puck more.
“For some reason the first two periods we were sitting back a lot and there was too much space on our forecheck,” he said. “We were so spread out that we couldn’t get any added pressure. We had a good chat about it between the second and third. I thought our guys tightened it up and moved our feet a little more.”
As the Vees continued to outshoot the Smoke Eaters, the final tally being 39-20 in their favour, they were more dangerous in the third. Harbinson said the third was by far their best as the Vees missed chances and hit posts in the previous two periods. Harbinson credited the play of the Smoke Eaters, who have been in a lot of one-goal games.
“I thought it was a great game by them,” he said.
The Vees, who improved to 21-7-1-3, left the SOEC shortly after the game Wednesday as they headed for Langley where they would practice and spend time before arriving in Chilliwack for their game Friday. The Vees then head to Cowichan Valley, where Cooper Steen will face his former team since the Dec. 1 trade that brought him to Penticton. The road trip concludes in Victoria against the Grizzlies.
Vees notes: forward Cam Amantea is expected to be back in the lineup for the road trip. He re-aggravated his upper body injury when the Vees hosted Langley on Nov. 29 and didn’t play since. Amantea wanted to get back into action to be ready for their home-and-home with the West Kelowna Warriors.
“That’s a pretty big weekend for us heading into Christmas,” he said.