Special teams were killer for the Penticton Vees in a 4-2 win over the West Kelowna Warriors Wednesday.
Vees captain Nicholas Jones was a threat with two shorthanded goals. Jones also put the dagger into the Warriors with the game winner, his fourth this season against the defending RBC Cup champions. He didn’t even know he had that many.
“I have a little chip on my shoulder from last year playing them,” said Jones. “Every time you see them on the schedule, you look a little excited. You have something to prove every day.”
Along with Jones, the Vees got a power-play goal from Jamie Armstrong, who deflected Taylor Ward’s one timer from the point. Owen Sillinger iced the game on a shorthanded tally on a six-on-three man advantage.
“Yeah, when you go through tough times, it’s usually not easy to get out of it,” said Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson. “They’re a good team. They are going to make plays. The second one they get kind of a fortunate bounce. Tight on their tape for a tap in. You can easily be on your heels, especially after what happened last week.”
“A better effort than the last two games. (READ MORE: VIDEO: Vees coach said team should be ashamed after blowing lead).Even though we gave up two goals, it was a more of a complete effort all around,” said Jones. “Those two goals was a little reminiscent of Trail two games ago. On the bench it was a different feel out there. We had push back. It was nice to get that win to get back on track.”
Leading 3-0 heading into the third period, the Warriors got goals from Chase Stevenson, a West Kelowna product who played three games with the Vees last season as an affiliate player, and Connor Sodergren’s 17th of the season at 11:37 made it 3-2.
“We didn’t necessarily play a bad game. It was that second period we kind of fell apart a little bit,” said Warriors captain Nicholas Rutigliano. “A team like Penticton they are good every year. All the credit to them, but you can’t give a team a period like that. They will get three goals and that’s exactly what they did.”
PENTICTON VEES CAPTAIN Nicholas Jones checks in with teammate Duncan Campbell along with an official to see if he is okay after taking a massive hit along the boards.
Jones was a force in the second period.
Four minutes in Jones bursted in on an odd-man rush with Duncan Campbell while killing a penalty. Jones chose to shoot and was denied by Warriors goalie Cole Demers. Shortly after though, the pair teamed up on another play. This time Campbell shot and Jones was in perfect position to swat the rebound into the empty net.
The Vees continued to buzz and got another solid chance, this time from Grant Cruikshank who was sprung on a breakaway from just inside the blue line, but Demers managed to get his glove on the shot. Jones and Campbell again nearly scored on another chance, but Campbell was taken down. No call on the play.
On the power play and with three seconds remaining on the advantage, Meek threw a pass across the zone to Taylor Ward who one-timed a shot from the blue line that went high, but was deflected by Jamie Armstrong for his second as a Vee. That goal came with 2:48 remaining. Over a minute later, Jones gave the Vees a 3-0 lead with a shorthanded tally. Starting from the neutral zone, Jones skated through the Warriors and fired a wrist shot past Demers glove.
Jones has had the Warriors number this season with three game-winning tallies.
After being outshot 15-12 in the opening period, the Vees outshot the Warriors 16-7 for a 28-22 edge.
Vees goalie Mat Robson earned the third star with a 35-save performance, while Demers turned away 37. Vees defenceman James Miller was injured during the second period. Harbinson said he didn’t know how long Miller would be out for.
The Vees are now 30-8-1 and played to a crowd of 2,777.
On the Jan. 10 trade deadline, the only move the Vees made was adding defenceman Sam Rossini to a card, while putting Greg Brydon on an Okanagan Hockey Academy card as Harbinson suggested he would. Rossini was injured during an exhibition game against the Vernon Vipers.
On Friday the Vees travel to Merritt to take on the Centennials. Jones said that will be a different game and that the Nicola Valley Arena is always tough to play in.
“We have to be gritty. Go wanting to grind out a win,” he said.
On Saturday, the Vees return home to host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at 6 p.m.
Here are some other moves that took place within the league:
Former Vee Josh Blanchard was dealt by the Salmon Arm Silverbacks to the Nanaimo Clippers for future considerations; the Surrey Eagles transfered the Canadian Junior Hockey League playing rights for Michael Botiz to the Mirimachi Timberwolves of the MHL for future considerations; the Trail Smoke Eaters acquired the CJHL playing rights for Carter Cochrane from the Silverbacks for future considerations; the Eagles transfered the playing rights for Nick Minerva to the Cobourg Cougars of the OJHL for future considerations; the Eagles acquired the playing rights for former Vee Domenic Masellis from the Coquitlam Express for future considerations; the Cowichan Valley Capitals acquired Mitch Skapski and Haydn Hopkins from the Silverbacks for Ryan Hogg and Trevor Ayre and future considerations; the Prince George Spruce Kings traded Trent Huitema to the Humboldt Broncos of the SJHL for Tim Vanstone and future considerations.
Video courtesy of Jayson Moonie.