Photo credit: Damon James
Coquitlam, BC: The Penticton Vees trailed for the first time in their Interior Division quarter final series against the Coquitlam Express after one period, but the offence came to life again in the second en route to a 7-2 win, and a 3-0 lead in the series.
Coquitlam opened the scoring 3:30 into the game when Jack McNab’s dump in from centre ice eluded Adam Scheel. The Vees threw everything on net trying to even the game, and finally broke through.
Jackson Keane cut towards the slot from the right wing but his shot was blocked. The puck came right back to him, and Keane was able to put the puck into an open cage with Brock Hamm out of position to tie the game.
Less than a minute later the Express regained their lead. A clear around the boards behind the Penticton net bounced off a body and went right to the front of the net. Christian Sanda was the only player in front, and he was able to jam the puck through Scheel’s five hole to give Coquitlam the lead through 20 minutes.
Much like game two, Penticton’s offence returned to form in the second period. Wyatt Sloboshan got it started with a power-play goal 6:38 into the period on a great feed from the goal line from Dakota Boutin.
Three minutes later, Marcus Mitchell gathered a loose puck in the right circle before spinning and firing past a screened Hamm to give the Vees their first lead of the game.
Off the ensuing faceoff, Chris Klack skated down the left wing, faked the shot to get Hamm to go down before heading below the goal line. Klack then banked the puck off the goalie and into the net for the second Vees goal in 10 seconds.
Sloboshan added his second of the game with three minutes to play after Jared Nash provided a nice tip between his legs off a Michael Campoli shot from the blue line.
In the final minute of the period the score took a back seat as Nicky Leivermann was pushed from behind while chasing down a dump in and went head first into the boards. Leivermann laid flat on his back on the ice before being stretchered off and taken to hospital.
Dominic Davis was given a five-minute blow to the head major penalty and was ejected from the game. The two teams were sent to their locker rooms with 46 seconds remaining in the second and played those final seconds after returning to the ice following a lengthy delay.
Just 23 seconds into the major, Klack scored his second goal of the game firing a wrist shot over Hamm’s glove coming down the left wing.
Jack Barnes rounded out the scoring on the same power play, finishing off a cross-crease feed from Nash just over three minutes into the third period.
The Vees will now look for the sweep against the Express in game four Wednesday night. Should they be able to finish the series, it would be the first sweep for Penticton since 2014 when they dispatched Merritt in the opening round.