Submitted by Fraser Rodgers
The Penticton Vees were supposed to be a tired bunch on Sunday when they traveled to Salmon Arm for their second game in less than 24 hours, and their third in four days but they clearly didn’t care for the narrative.
Riley Alferd scored the game-winner early in the third period and Brendan Barry turned in a first-star performance in goal, as the Vees took down the Silverbacks 3-1 at the Shaw Centre. The win is the Vees 10th in a row and they’ve now opened a 10-point cushion on second place West Kelowna in the Interior Division. The Vees didn’t show any signs of having tired legs in the opening period. They outshot the Silverbacks 11-3 and were unfortunate to have not taken a lead into the dressing room. Angus Redmond was the main reason the game was scoreless after the first as the Silverbacks goaltender thwarted the Vees on more than one occasion.
The Vees best chance in the first came off the stick of Cam Amantea. The veteran forward thought he had his first goal of the season but Redmond came across and threw out his blocker on Amantea’s short-side attempt. The scoreless deadlock was finally broken late in the second period when the Vees capitalized on a turnover in the Salmon Arm end. Josh Laframboise took the puck away from the Silverbacks defenceman in the corner and found an open Patrick Newell breaking to the goal. Newell, from one knee, quickly went to his back-hand for his third at 13:44; his first goal in seven games.
Alferd provided an insurance marker early in the third period and he did it all by himself. Alferd intercepted a clearing attempt and stick-handled around a defender to the bottom of the right-circle, before cutting out front and tucking the puck around Redmond at 6:52; Alferd’s seventh matching his entire goal output from last season.
That Alferd goal loomed large because the Silverbacks responded less than three minutes later. After the Vees were called for their only penalty of the game, the Salmon Arm power-play quickly went to work, cutting the Vees lead in half.
Nic Josephs missed his point shot on the blocker side of Barry but the rebound came to Colton Thibault, who managed to bank the puck off of Barry and just across the goal-line at 9:15. Salmon Arm then tried to press for an equalizer but Barry and the Vees defence held the Silverbacks in check the rest of the way. Lewis Zerter-Gossage put the finishing touches on the win when he guided the puck into an empty-net at 18:43.
Barry finished with 25 saves to improve his record to 3-0. Sunday marked the sixth straight game the Vees held their opponent to two or less goals. The Vees 25 goals against is a BCHL best and is 11 goals better than the next best team. Sunday also marked the eighth time in their last 10 games the Vees scored the opening goal. The Vees improve to 13-1-0-0 on the year and are now 3-0-0 against Salmon Arm; 9-1-0-0 against the Interior Division.