|Adam Osczevski of the West Kelowna Warriors battles with Penticton Vees captain Brad McClure as Vees D Alexandre Coloumbe and G Hunter Miska watch for the puck Friday at the SOEC. Warriors won 3-1.|
Carl Hesler scored twice and Adam Osczevski also connected in the middle stanza as the Warriors beat the Vees for the first time this season, 3-1 in front of 1,845 fans Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Captain Brad McClure scored his 29th of the season for the Vees, who had their eight-game winning streak come to an end.
The Vees and Warriors will do battle again tonight at 7 p.m. at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna in the final game for both teams before the Christmas break.
Andy Desautels made 19 saves to get the win. Hunter Miska started for the Vees and surrendered three goals on 22 shots before giving way to Olivier Mantha, who stopped all six shots he faced. The Vees had just 11 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes.
The Vees had won all three meetings against their Valley rivals this season, nine of 10 going back to last year and 23 of the last 26. But the Warriors (19-12-1-2) were full value for the win as they stayed tied with the Merritt Centennials for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior Conference.
Penticton (24-8-1-3) stayed five points ahead of the idle Vernon Vipers in the Interior Conference and remained in first overall in the B.C. Hockey League.
Vernon hosts the Powell River Kings tonight at 7 p.m. in their last game before the break.
The Vees got the only goal of an evenly-played first period. On a 5-on-3 power play, McClure one-timed a pass from Brett Beauvais, with Ben Dalpe registering the other assist at 10:19. Desautels had to make a terrific save off Travis Blanleil on the ensuing 5-on-4 power play to keep the Warriors close.
West Kelowna came out on a mission in the second period, outshooting the Vees 13-5 and scoring three goals. The Vees were guilty of failing to clear the crease on all three close-range goals.
Hesler tied the game at 1:32 as he directed the puck home from in close with David Pope and Ben Tegtmeyer assisting.
The Warriors took the lead for good at 8:35. Osczevski drove hard down the right to get the puck down low, Brett Mennear got there and made a neat blind backhand pass back to Osczevski who jammed it home from in tight.
Hesler made it 3-1 on a very similar play at 17:39. Osczevski forced his way in down the right side, steered the puck to the crease and Hesler outmuscled the Vees defence before knocking it in from about two feet out.
The Vees thought they'd scored on a power play with 9:09 to play in the game.
Cam Amantea's shot glanced off Ben Dalpe's skate and past Desautels. Tegtmeyer tried to yank the puck out as it got to the goalline, then Max Coatta went hard to the net and forced the puck all the way over.
After consulting with the rest of the four-man officiating crew, the referee ruled the first shot did not completely cross the line and the second shot was directed in by a skate. Vees GM and head coach Fred Harbinson was furious, but his protests fell on deaf ears.
The Vees didn't generate much in the last nine minutes as the Warriors went on to bag a crucial two points in their battle to make the playoffs.
ICE CHIPS: Hesler, Osczevski and Desautels were the three stars â€¦ Paul Richard was the first winner of the Chuck-a-Puck contest and went home with a nice early Christmas present of $2,100 â€¦ The Vees next home game is Jan. 5, 2014 versus Merritt.