A quick start and an offensive outburst in the second period led to the Penticton Vees handing the Trail Smoke Eaters an 8-1 loss at the South Okanagan Events Centre Saturday.
The crowd of 2,156 didn’t have to wait long to see the Vees hit the scoresheet as Luke Voltin and Scott Conway set up Nicholas Jones for his fourth of the season at 1:04. Thirteen minutes later, the Vees’ power-play went to work as Demico Hannoun netted his 10th while parked at the side of the net to make it 2-0 Vees. His second of the game gave the Vees a 7-1 lead.
In the second period it was all Vees as they outscored the Smoke Eaters 4-1 on a 12-10 shot advantage. Taylor Ward, who scored his first career BCHL goal last season as a Vees affiliate player, went bar down for his first goal of the season.
“I have been a little snake bitten but it was good to get the monkey off the back,” said Ward, named the FortisBC Energy Player of the Game. I didn’t think it went in. I thought it hit the cross bar. It was a little delayed reaction. When I saw the guys celebrating for me it obviously felt good.”
Twenty-six seconds after Ward’s goal, Mitchell Brooks’ third of the season gave the Vees a 4-0 lead. Desi Burgart dished the puck off to Griffin Mendel, who found Brooks sitting along in front of the Smoke Eaters’ net. Just over two minutes later, Scott Conway scored the first of his two goals (23 on the year). That spelled the end of Bailey MacBurnie’s night in goal for Trail.
Evan MacEachern solved Zachary Driscoll as he beat the Vees goalie on the glove side. With a minute remaining in the period, Conway made it 6-1 as he beat Linden Marshall, who was caught out of position in his crease with chaos surrounding him. The Vees pocketed two more goals by Hannoun and Burgart, who has three goals.
Ward said the win was huge for the Vees, who improve to 26-2-0 and have now won three straight.
“Getting these wins now is critical especially when we have got some big guys leaving soon,” said Ward, in talking about captain Tyson Jost and assistant captain Dante Fabbro, who will be heading to Leduc, Alta., for the Canada West camp for the World Junior A Challenge. “We played really well. We had one of our best starts of the year. Our start was obviously critical and we just rolled off of our first few shifts.”
Both teams power-plays went one-for-four, while the Vees outshot the Smoke Eaters 38-28.