The Powell River Kings partly spoiled Teddy Bear Toss night at the South Okanagan Events Centre Saturday.
The Kings struck first on a goal by Johan Steen 4:24 into the game, but the Vees snapped a two-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory in front of 2,835 supporters. The win improves the Vees to 24-5-1-0 in the BCHL.
Vees fans only had to wait until 9:55 of the opening period to spray the ice surface with stuffed toys that will be donated by the Salvation Army to families in need. Vees forward Chris Klack backhanded a Jonny Tychonick pass past Brian Wilson.
With 3:36 remaining in the opening frame, Klack and Nicholas Jones unleashed Grant Cruikshank who flew down the right wing to beat Wilson with a nice wrist shot. Cruikshank has 18 goals on the season.
Ty Amonte extended the Vees’ lead to 3-1 25 seconds into the second period. Owen Sillinger sprung him loose on a breakaway and Amonte made a move to beat Wilson five-hole with his backhand for his 11th of the season.
The Vees edged the Kings in shots that period 9-7 with other opportunities to score. Matt Gosiewski found himself alone atop the crease with Wilson, but couldn’t get control of the puck to bury it. Later on with the man-advantage, Jones missed connecting a one-timer at the side of the net.
The power plays were powerless for both teams, going 0-for-7. The Vees killed off a two-man advantage for just over a minute.
Later in the period, Vees affiliate Massimo Rizzo fed Sillinger, but he was robbed by Wilson, who finished with 27 saves. Vees goalie Mat Robson turned aside 20 shots for his 19th win.
“We talked about trying to squeeze a little extra effort out of each guy,” said Harbinson. “If we were going to do that, it would give us a great chance of winning the hockey game. Tonight was about a little redemption. I thought our guys got that extra little push tonight.”
The win Saturday was even more important Harbinson said because now they will be without defencemen Tychonick, Griffin Mendel and James Miller, who will travel to Leduc, Alta., for the Team Canada West camp for the World Junior A Challenge. The Vees roster has taken a hit as Gabe Bast is re-injured and is expected to be out “a long time” Harbinson said as it is related to the injury problem he had last year. Mitch Meek may return to the lineup Wednesday against the Vernon Vipers and forward Jamie Armstrong is out until after Christmas with mono.
The three stars from the game were 1. Klack, 2. Amonte, 3. Jones.
Video below courtesy of Jayson Moonie.
Vees notes: Zach Driscoll, the BCHL’s Top Goalie last year, earned his first college shutout in a 3-0 win over the St. Cloud State Huskies on Dec. 2 making 25 saves. It’s also the Huskies first shutout of the season.