The Penticton Vees used a four-point effort from Fin Williams and a late goal from Luke Vardy to prevail over the Prince George Spruce Kings by a 4-3 score on Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The Vees opened the game drawing a penalty and getting themselves an opening game power play goal courtesy of Jackson Nieuwendyk to give Penticton an early 1-0 lead. The Vees moved the puck well on their man advantage with Fin Williams sending a pass to the blue line where Grayson Arnott distributed the puck to Nieuwendyk, who let a shot go from the left face-off circle and zipped it past the glove side of Spruce Kings netminder Aaron Trotter for a one-goal lead just 2:44 into the contest.
The 1st period did not offer much in the way of chances for either side with each goaltender showing well in their respective creases. Kaeden Lane turned aside each of the 7 shots he faced in the Vees net while Trotter stopped 5 of the 6 shots he faced in the opening frame.
The 2nd period opened up a bit more than the opening period with chances being traded with the Spruce Kings tying the game at the 6:05 mark of the 2nd period. Kilian McGregor-Bennett evened the scoring as he made his way around the Vees defense on the left side and made his way to the net before backhanding a shot past the glove side of Lane to tie the game 1-1.
The ice remained open with both teams going back and forth before the Vees took their second lead of the game at the 10:38 mark of the middle stanza courtesy of their Captain, Fin Williams, against his former team.
Penticton kept the puck inside of the offensive zone with a good shift before Ethan Mann laid a pass to the blue line with Arnott feeding to the right face-off circle and Williams collected in the right face-off circle and beat Trotter through the legs for his 2nd goal of the preseason at the 10:38 mark of the 2nd period for a 2-1 Vees lead.
Once again, in the early part of the 3rd period, the Spruce Kings found a way to get the game on even terms as Kolton Cousins tied the score once more. After a big penalty kill, Cousins forced the puck away from the defender in the left corner and got to the bottom of the left face-off circle and lifted a shot over the blocker shoulder of Lane to tie the game 2-2 at the 2:06 mark of the final period.
The Vees power play continued to show well and got themselves back in the lead at the 7:09 mark of the 3rd period with Nieuwendyk burying his second goal of the game. A terrific pass from Stefano Bottini at the glove side of the Prince George net saw Nieuwendyk one-time a shot past the blocker side of goaltender Jordan Fairlie, who came on halfway through the 2nd period for the Spruce Kings, to make it a 3-2 game in favour of the Vees.
Just 1:24 after that, Nick Rheaume again would even the score for the Spruce Kings on a power play of their own at the 8:33 mark to tie the game at 3-3. Right off the face-off, the puck was sent to the front of the net with Rheaume jamming in the loose puck past Lane and the game once again was tied.
The Vees applied pressure as the period went along and Luke Vardy gave Penticton their fourth lead of the game with his 2nd goal of the season at the 14:10 mark of the final period. Vardy got a pass from Willliams at the right point and sent a shot through traffic past the blocker side of Fairlie that gave the Vees a 4-3 lead later in the 3rd period.
The Spruce Kings pulled their goaltender and had a couple of good looks on the Vees net but Lane stood tall to keep Penticton ahead for a 4-3 final. Lane turned aside 24 of the 27 shots for his 2nd preseason win while Aaron Trotter stopped 13 of the 15 shots thrown his way and Jordan Fairlie denied 11 of the 13 shots he faced in his 1st loss of the preseason.
FINAL SCORE: 4-3 Vees
SHOTS ON GOAL: 28-27 Vees
VEES PP: 2/5
VEES PK: 3/4
1) Jackson Nieuwendyk (2-0-2)
2) Fin Williams (1-3-4)
3) Kolton Cousins (1-0-1)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Kaeden Lane (24 saves on 27 shots)
The Vees (3-0-0-0) conclude their exhibition season with a home-and-home set against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (3-1-0-0) with the opening game of the weekend taking place at the Shaw Centre on Friday night in the Shuswap. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with game being broadcasted on HockeyTV.com.