It was bedlam in the South Okanagan Events Centre Saturday after Nicholas Jones scored the double-overtime winner, 3-2 over the Trail Smoke Eaters just before the clock hit zero.
“To get that goal with 0.1 seconds is pretty exciting,” said Penticton Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson. “I think it sends everybody home with an exciting feel and good taste in their mouth.”
The Vees escaped what looked to be defeat and came away with an unbelievable win after Chris Klack showed patience and fed the Vees captain with a backdoor pass for the one-timer past Zach Dyment, who finished with 43 saves to earn the third star.
“We found a way to win,” said Harbinson, adding that Grant Cruikshank took a hit to help set up the winner.
The Vees opened the scoring with Jonny Tychonick’s first career BCHL goal. With traffic in front of the Trail goal, Tychonick managed to bury a rebound on the play set up by Jones, the game’s first star, with Ben Brar also earning an assist. Smoke Eater Ryan Moon tied it up midway through the second period.
Four minutes into the third, Jared Nash dropped the gloves with Ethan Martini of the Smoke Eaters and got the upper hand. Harbinson said that fight helped his team. After the fight, Harbinson said his team started playing better.
With under five minutes remaining in the final frame, Braeden Tuck setup Ross Armour, who was open in the slot and beat Mat Robson high glove to put Trail up 2-1. Cruikshank salvaged the game for the Vees when he managed to bank a shot from behind the goal off Dyment with 1:34 remaining.
Dyment continued his strong play in overtime as the Vees outshot the visitors 13-3 in total. Harbinson said Dyment was amazing, and felt his goalie played well also.
The Vees coach said his team looked nervous and that they had trouble making plays.
“It was the first time playing in front of our own crowd (3,037),” he said. “I think some guys looked a little tight.”
The home-opener marked the debut of Vees rookie Turner Ripplinger, who missed the first month with an injury. He described his first game as exciting.
“Playing in front of a crowd like that, it’s pretty cool,” he said.
When asked about Jones’ goal, he said it was pretty exciting.
“I had an experience like that last year. It was pretty cool,” said Ripplinger, who joined his teammates to mob Jones on the ice.
Trail went one-for-three on the power play, while the Vees were 0-for-3.