West Kelowna Warriors goaltender, Andy Desautels, narrowly missed the puck Vees defenseman Brett Beauvais slips by him for the Vees second goal of the game.
By James Miller
In the first meeting of the year between the Interior’s top two teams, Penticton Vees were the ones to come out on top snapping the three-game winning streak of the West Kelowna Warriors in BCHL junior A hockey, Friday.
The Vees edged West Kelowna 3-2.
Both teams entered the game atop of their divisional standings with identical 9-3-0-1 records. Meanwhile, Vernon Vipers kept pace by winning 2-1 over Powell River Kings, Friday, to pull even with West Kelowna, but with one game in hand.
Paul Stoykewych, Brett Beauvais and Brad McClure scored in the victory. Jason Cotton had both goals for the Warriors.
The Vees were two-for-three on the power-play and West Kelowna zero-for-six.
“Both teams played real hard and I was proud of our guys,” said Vees coach Fred Harbinson. “Specialty teams were huge. It’s one area we’ve slipped in our last five games both on penalty kill and the power play and we really challenged our guys and they stepped it up on both tonight.”
“It was a pretty good game. Our power-play came up a little short for us and quite often at our level special teams are a key in games and I thought they were key tonight,” said Warriors coach Ryan Ferster.
Cotton opened the scoring with the lone goal of the first period coming from a goalmouth scramble at 13:40.
In the second period, the Vees capitalized early on a five-minute major to Ryan Ivey for kneeing. Stoykewych scored 26 seconds into the power-play which seemed to bring the home team to life. The Vees would strike again at 11:43 with a goal from Beauvais who scored a power-play marker seconds after a five-on-three opportunity expired.
The Warriors were able to gain momentum back when Cotton scored his second of the night at 18:43 on a nifty two-way passing play with Adam Plant knotting the score 2-2 by the end of the second.
The Vees ended the second period, carrying over to the start of the third, playing two men short for 90 seconds but were successful in killing it off.
“We made a mental error at the end of the second that gave them the opportunity to tie it up,” said Harbinson. “It was a long five-on-three but our guys did a great job killing it and it allowed our captain to score the winner.”
McClure would put the Vees ahead for good at 9:19 of the third with his team-high ninth goal of the season. It stood as the winner.
Olivier Mantha was the winning goalie stopping 25 of 27 shots. Andy Desautels, drawing his 14th consecutive start of the season, made 20 saves for the Warriors.
“We have a lot of guys banged up but that’s no excuse,” said Ferster of his line-up. “We came in here and played OK and the power-play came up short. We’ll regroup and hopefully play better on Sunday.”
West Kelowna returns to the ice Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Royal LePage Place against Salmon Arm. The Vees play in Langley tonight and return to the SOEC Friday to Vernon.
Vernon 2 Powell River 1
At Powell River, Mason Blacklock’s power-play goal at 15:35 of the third period stood as the winner as the Vipers (8-4-1-2) beat Powell River (10-2-0-1) 2-1. Dexter Dancs had the other goal for Vernon. Ryan Scarfo replied for Powell River. Powell River outshot Vernon 26-17 with Michael Stilladis posting the win in net.
The Vipers continue their three-game, road swing tonight in Nanaimo and wrap it up Sunday at Alberni Valley.