Penticton Vees Grant Cruikshank breaks down the ice in an earlier meeting with the West Kelowna Warriors. The two teams met Friday night in West Kelowna with the hosts coming away with a 4-3 win. Penticton and the Powell River Kings square off Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre at 6 p.m. Mark Brett/Western News

Warriors edge Vees 4-3

West Kelowna Warriors edge Vees in West Kelowna

The Penticton Vees (10-4-1-1) and West Kelowna Warriors (12-7-0-0) went back and forth with some quick-strike offence all night, but despite a late power-play chance, the Vees couldn’t answer back for a third time as the Warriors held on for the 4-3 win.

The scoring in the game was opened by the Vees after a turnover at the Warriors blue line. Jack Barnes gave the puck to Jackson Keane inside the left face-off circle and he skated his way to the front of the net uncontested before sliding a backhand shot through Cole Demers pads with 9:16 left in the first period.

Later in the frame, both goalies, Demers and Vees Adam Scheel, made highlight-reel stops within a minute of each other on cross-ice feeds.

The Warriors tied the game seven minutes into the second period on a controversial play. The Warriors fired the puck the length of the ice for what appeared to be icing, but it wasn’t called. Just seconds later, Lucas Cullen took a pass in the slot and scored on his own rebound to even the game.

The Vees didn’t let the non call get to them and just over a minute later Taylor Ward restored his teams lead. After missing an opportunity on a partial break seconds earlier, Ward skated to the blue line with room in the slot, firing a wrister over Demers glove to make it 2-1 Vees.

The offence continued in the second as West Kelowna scored twice just 34 seconds apart. First it was Jordan Todd jumping on a rebound in front to even things up, before Cullen got his second of the night after a blocked shot came right to him in the left circle to give the Warriors the 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.

Penticton was under siege through the opening eight minutes of the third period as the Warriors didn’t allow the Vees to leave their own zone. Uncharacteristic turnovers and icings kept the Vees on their heels for nearly the first half of the final frame.

With a little over six minutes left, Cassidy Bowes took it upon himself to tie the game. Coming down the right wing, Bowes put the puck between his own legs to get around the defender before putting the left shoulder down and cutting across the crease to score his fourth of the season to tie the game.

The lead didn’t last long however as under a minute later the Warriors answered. After a shot from the right wing didn’t get through, a centring feed from near the goal line found Michael Lombardi alone in front as he tapped home his fourth of the year to restore the Warriors lead.

Six seconds after the goal the Vees were given a wonderful chance to tie it with a four-minute power play after a high sticking call. The best Vees chances came after the power play had expired, as Owen Sillinger and Jonny Tychonick were both stopped on cross-ice chances inside the final 30 seconds.

The buzzer sounded and the Vees found themselves on the wrong side of the final score for the fifth time in seven games with the 4-3 final. It was the first loss to West Kelowna since December 18, 2015.

The Vees now welcome the Powell River Kings (10-4-1-1) Saturday night after the Kings had a surprise night off on Friday. Their game in Wenatchee was postponed due to transit issues and will be made up at a later date. Penticton will try and extend a dubious record for the Kings, as Powell River has never won at the SOEC since it opened in 2008.

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