The Penticton Vees used a big effort from their veterans in Fin Williams and Luc Wilson to open the preseason in front of their home fans with a 3-1 victory over the Vernon Vipers on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
In the first game on home ice in front of fans in 569 days, the Vees used that energy to their advantage as they got out to an early 12-0 lead on the shot clock and were able to get themselves the first goal of the exhibition season coming from new defender Luke Vardy.
The Vees rearguard got the puck at the blue line and fired a shot off the end boards before the play was worked back up top where Vardy once again sent a shot to the goal that had eyes for the back of the net as it beat a screened Vernon goaltender in Roan Clarke to give the Vees a 1-0 lead at the 5:36 mark of the 1st period.
Penticton continued with pressure in the offensive zone and peppered the Vipers net with 12 straight shots on goal and took a 2-0 lead at the 8:38 mark of the 1st period as Vees captain Fin Williams pushed his team ahead by a pair of goals. Luc Wilson stopped up at the top of the right face-off circle and sent a pass across to the left side with Williams zipping a shot over the glove side shoulder of Clarke for a 2-0 advantage.
The Vipers inched within a goal as Ethan Mercer made a strong play inside of the offensive zone, taking advantage of a turnover and getting a pass from Daniel North in the left-wing corner as he gathered in the slot and threw a shot through the legs of Vees goaltender Kaeden Lane at the 13:57 mark of the opening frame to make it a one-goal game.
Early in the 2nd period, the Vees continued a double-minor power play and made the Vipers pay with Grayson Arnott restoring the two-goal advantage. Williams made a pass to the blue line as Arnott hammered a slap shot wide to the glove side of Clarke with the puck kareeming off the end boards and off the pad of Clarke and into the net just 25 seconds into the frame for a 3-1 lead.
Penticton outshoot Vernon 18-5 in the middle stanza and 32-8 over the course of two periods and continued that into the 3rd period with more pressure and more time inside of the offensive zone.
The Vees threw the most rubber they had all game long in the 3rd period, forcing 22 shots on goal with Clarke standing tall once again and was the Vipers best player, turning aside 51 of the 54 shots he faced in the loss while Kaeden Lane made saves on 12 of the 13 shots he faced in the victory.
With a crowd of 2,360 in attendance in the first home game of the exhibition schedule, Friday night’s game was the largest attended preseason game in Vees history.
FINAL SCORE: 3-1 Vees
SHOTS ON GOAL: 54-13 Vees
VEES PP: 1/4
VEES PK: 4/4
1) Fin Williams (1-2-3)
2) Roan Clarke (51 saves on 53 shots)
3) Luc Wilson (1-1-2)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Ryan Hopkins (0-0-0)
The Vees (1-0-0-0) will make their way on the road to conclude their weekend home-and-home set against the Vernon Vipers (0-2-0-0) on Saturday night at Kal Tire Place in their second exhibition schedule. Puck drop is slated for 6:00 PM.