Penticton, BC: The Penticton Vees (25-9-2-2) were trailing 3-1 late in the second period against the Merritt Centennials (16-19-2-1) Wednesday night, but two quick goals tied things up after 40 before Owen Sillinger tallied the game winner early in the third.
Merritt opened the scoring Wednesday as Brendan Schneider’s shot hit Matthew Kopperud in front of the goal, deflecting under Adam Scheel’s blocker. The Vees outshot Merritt 14-9 through one period, a sign of things to come.
Penticton piled on the pressure in the second and tied things up just over two minutes in. Kenny Johnson let a shot go from the left point that was deflected by Wyatt Sloboshan in front of the goal. Jacob Berger made the save, but the puck squeaked out to the top of the crease for Massimo Rizzo to slap into an open goal.
The Centennials regained their lead when a shot from the right wall hit a Vees defender in front and snuck under Scheel’s blocker. Three and half minutes later Merritt extended their lead when Matthieu Gosselin wired home a slap shot from the left circle just nine seconds into a power play.
The Vees never waivered, and ramped up their game in the final minutes. Marcus Mitchell scored for the third straight game after taking a feed from Dakota Boutin, walking down the slot and firing a wrist shot over Berger’s glove with 3:47 left.
Just 68 seconds later, Jonny Tychonick’s shot from the blue line hit a Centennials defender and landed right on Taylor Ward’s stick to shove into the open net. Ward is also riding a three-game goal scoring streak.
The Vees held a 34-15 shot advantage through two periods and would strike again early in the third. Johnson made an aggressive play at the left point in Merritt’s zone, pinching in and reaching for the puck as the Centennials started up ice.
Johnson was able to poke it to Ryan Sandelin, who spotted Sillinger all alone in front of the net. Sillinger faked the shot before pulling it to his backhand and beating Berger glove side to give the Vees a lead their wouldn’t relinquish.
Try as they might, Merritt had a tough time getting the puck deep in Penticton territory as they tried to get Berger out of the net for the extra attacker and the clock ran down to signal a 4-3 Vees win.
Penticton has now won three-straight games as they get set to welcome the Trail Smoker Eaters (25-13-3-0) to the South Okanagan Events Centre Friday night. Trail has won five of their last six, and sit one point behind the Vees in the Interior Division, though the Vees have three games in hand.