The Penticton Vees erased two deficits to come-from-behind for a 6-3 victory over the Trail Smoke Eaters on Saturday night at the Trail Memorial Centre.
The game started with a frantic pace as both teams came out with plenty of pace, although the Vees did begin the game shorthanded with a penalty during warm up but killed that off to get back to five-on-five play. Special teams did factor into the opening frame with some penalty trouble for the Vees forced them into a 4-on-3 shorthanded and Evan Bushy got Trail ahead by a 1-0 score.
Bushy took a pass from Zach Michaelis at the mid-point as he walked down into the left face-off circle and snapped a shot over the glove side of Vees netminder Kaeden Lane at the 8:51 mark of the 1st period and the power play marker gave Trail a 1-0 advantage.
24 seconds later, Brady Hunter followed up on a Michaelis net drive that got the home side ahead by a 2-0 margin. Michaelis made a strong move to the right-wing as he drove to the net on the glove side of Lane, having his chance stopped before Brady Hunter followed up and tapped in the backhand shot at the 9:13 mark to give Trail a 2-0 advantage.
The Vees concluded the period with a 16-10 hold in the shots on goal category and carried that momentum into the 2nd period as they got within a goal early in the frame as just 10 seconds into the period, Casey McDonald made it a one-goal contest.
Off the opening face-off, Stefano Bottini made a play to the right wing as Jackson Nieuwendyk made his way into the left face-off circle before centering a pass to Casey McDonald, who pushed through the slot and moved to his backhand to lift a shot over the glove side of Smoke Eaters goaltender Evan Fradette for his 9th goal of the season and cut the Smoke Eaters lead to 2-1 early in the 2nd frame.
Moments after that, the Vees were able to get on even ground as Ryan Hopkins pushed Penticton into a 2-2 tie. The puck made it to the blue line at the right point where Hopkins threw the puck at the net and, through heavy traffic in front, was able to get it past the blocker side of Fradette for his 4th marker of the season at the 3:57 mark of the middle frame to even the score at 2-2.
The Smoke Eaters came back and got the game back in their favour as the third point of the game from Zach Michaelis gave Trail a one-goal lead. Michaelis got the puck in the right face-off circle on a strong forechecking effort and zipped a shot past Lane on the blocker side at the 8:28 mark of the 2nd period for a 3-2 Trail advantage,
Penticton once again had an answer and scored for the third time in the period as Beanie Richter evened the score at 3-3. A shot from the right face-off circle by Thomas Pichette was stopped by Fradette with Richter following through and burying his backhand try past the glove side of the Smoke Eaters netminder for his 2nd goal of the season at the 13:18 mark of the middle frame to even the score heading into the 3rd period.
The Vees gave the Smoke Eaters nothing to work with in the 3rd period, outshooting Trail by a 16-3 margin in the final 20 minutes of action and took their first lead of the game just 2:19 into the final frame as Spencer Smith pushed the Vees ahead.
A scramble at the front of the net off a shot from Brett Moravec developed as the puck went below the goal line on the blocker side of Fradette with Smith shooting the puck off the right pad of the Smoke Eaters goaltender and into the back of the net for his 6th goal of the season and a 4-3 Penticton lead.
The Smoke Eaters eventually got their first shot on goal in the period with just over 9 and a half minutes remaining in the game as the Vees hemmed their chances well before the captain was able to give Penticton an insurance marker at the 15:11 mark of the final period.
Fin Williams took a Luc Wilson pass at the top of the slot, creeping his way into the middle of the zone and laced a shot over the glove side of Fradette for his 9th tally of the season and leadfrogged the Vees ahead by a 5-3 score.
Trail pulled their netminder in the final minute and a half of the game and the Vees did not give up much of anything before Brett Moravec landed his 13th goal of the season into the empty net to seal a 6-3 victory for the Vees.
FINAL SCORE: 6-3 Vees
SHOTS ON GOAL: 46-22 Vees
VEES PP: 0/4
VEES PK: 4/5
1) Zach Michaelis (1-2-3)
2) Casey McDonald (1-1-2)
3) Brady Hunter (1-2-3)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Ridge Dawson (0-0-0)
The Vees (19-2-0-1) host the Vernon Vipers (6-11-3-3) on Retro Night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The game will feature music from all decades while the Vees will wear special 60th anniversary jerseys against their old rival. It is also a Night For Neil as the Vees honour the legacy of Neil Jamieson with a pre-game ceremony and induction into the Vees Ring of Honour. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with tickets available for purchase online at valleyfirsttix.com as well as at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC.