Logan Johnston’s first of the game proved to be the winner for the Penticton Vees in a 5-1 win over the Quesnel Millionaires at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Friday night.
The No.2 seed in the Interior Conference heads to Quesnel with a 2-0 lead in the quarter-final series against the No.7 seed.
Offensively the Vees didn’t miss a beat with Brendan O’Donnell watching from the stands with an injury after falling awkwardly during his fight in Game 1.
The Vees power play, which capitalized in the first period thanks to Myles McCauley pouncing on an opportunity started by Mark MacMillan and Johnston, was effective again as Johnston, the games second star, jumped on another rebound given by Kris Kingdon to make it 3-0. Joey Laleggia, the game’s first star, made it 4-0 when he beat Kingdon with a low shot stick side. With three minutes remaining in the period, Mills forward Spencer Graboski scored on a nice tap in play.
With the game already sealed, Curtis Loik scored a shorthanded goal on a 2-on-1 play he began by giving to MacMillan.
Action got a little rough when Johnston was penalized for hitting from behind and given a misconduct. Defenceman Chad Bannor instigated a fight and was tossed. Later on, Vees captain Derik Johnson didn’t like a hit Taylor Orser delivered on a teammate and came to his defence.
Joel Rumpel made 17 saves for the win, while Kingdon turned aside 24.
Vees coach-genereal manager Fred Harbinson was pleased to see everyone on his team chip in. With the physical effort the Vees put in, Harbinson wants to see his players continue to wear down the Millionaires.
“They looked beat up,” said Harbinson. “We have to do the same in Quesnel.”
Johnston said it was important to come out the same as Thursday because they expect the Mills to be tough to play at home. With his own play, Johnston felt he played well as he simply focused on going to the net.
“I just let MacMillan and Laleggia move the puck,” said Johnston, who played minor hockey with MacMillan.
The series now returns to Quesnel for Game 4 on Monday and Milan said to leave their with at least one win, they need to continue being hard after pucks.
“We have to wear down their defenceman,” said Milan. “They are wearing down. I think we need to keep getting to them.”
Already without Kiefer McNaughton, who missed Friday’s game and will miss Monday’s for a blow-to-the-head suspension, Taylor Orser is likely to miss time when he received a gross-misconduct late in the third period.
Check the Western News for more Vees coverage.