Gorillas hold off Vees in 6-5 win

Penticton Vees captain Derik Johnson is serious enough with his approach to the game.

Even the efforts or Ellen and Ross Merritt ringing the cowbell couldn't save the Penticton Vees from losing to the Salmon Arm SilverBacks 6-5 on Thursday night. The Vees now embark on a three-game road swing that will see them play the Quesnel Millionaires twice and Prince George.

Penticton Vees captain Derik Johnson is serious enough with his approach to the game.

Following a 6-5 loss to the Salmon Arm SilverBacks on Thursday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre, in which the Vees and their fans watched them trail 6-2 after 40 minutes, Johnson was showing a different tone of seriousness.

“It’s unacceptable how we came out in the second,” said Johnson, as the Vees outshot the SilverBacks 13-9 but were outgunned 3-1 in that period. “We didn’t play well. We have to stick to the game plan. They came at us hard.”

Johnson said they also needed to get shots off early and through. While the Vees outshot the SilverBacks, that was wrapping up playing five games in seven nights, the Vees couldn’t capitalize on the chances they had.

Curtis Loik put the Vees on the scoresheet first as his shot from the slot found a hole in SilverBacks goalie Kris Moore. Then Troy Stecher took a hooking penalty and the Vees paid for it as David Killip beat Vees goalie Joel Rumpel five-hole. Before Killips goal, the SilverBacks had gone the first 10 minutes of the period without a shot. Jarryd Ten Vaanholt fired a shot off the post to make it 2-1 then Bryce Gervais finished off a nice passing play. It began when Jayson Reardon found Josh Manson, who spotted Gervais at the left side of Rumpel. The Vees goalie was out of position when Gervais showed patience then snapped the puck upstairs.

Rumpel was given the hook midway through the second frame after Matt Cassidy scored his second goal of the night making it 5-2. Rumpel’s replacement Billy Faust stopped eight of the nine shots in 26:40.

While Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson said he’s one of Rumpel’s biggest supporters, he didn’t feel his goalie had a good night and agreed that Rumpel had troubles holding the puck.

“We gave up good opportunities,” said Harbinson, who didn’t lay all the blame on his goalie.

Looking as though the SilverBacks would leave the SOEC with an easy win, the Vees comeback began. Rookie Steven Iacobellis scored to cut the lead in half, then 11 seconds later, Brendan O’Donnell took advantage of Moore being out of position and beat Moore as he grabbed at his post trying to keep the puck out. That goal gave the Vees and its fans life. Rookie Joey Benik then put the Vees within a goal scoring with two minutes remaining. Benik redirected Joey Laleggia’s point shot sending the team into a frenzy and giving hope of a comeback.

Insuring they would leave with a win, the SilverBacks sent the puck back into the Vees’ zone preventing any chance of a sixth goal.

Harbinson said his team had a great first 10 minutes then the tide turned when the SilverBacks got a power play.

“They got a power play goal and it was like their brains shutoff,” said Harbinson. “We make mistakes and it ends up in our net. We made silly errors and it was the young guys. We have to keep working with them.

“In the second, we didn’t show much pride,” continued Harbinson.

SilverBacks coach-GM Tim Kehler was happy with the effort considering the long stretch his team went through.

“I wasn’t surprised our energy level dropped,” said Kehler, who credited the Vees for not giving up. “It was a lesson learned.”

One of the things that Kehler liked that his team accomplished against the Vees was eliminating the odd man rushes. While the Vees did have a few, they were never able to finish on any of the chances.

“The Vees have tremendous speed,” said the SilverBacks coach.

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