PENTICTON, B.C. – The Penticton Vees used a multi-point effort from Frank Djurasevic and 27 saves from goaltender Kaeden Lane to earn a season opening 4-1 victory over the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
With 136 days between action, a little rust was expected as both teams did their best to settle into the game and get their feet wet. Kaeden Lane was sharp early in the Vees crease, making a couple of good stops in the opening minutes of the game before the Vees ran into penalty trouble.
Josh Niedermayer checked Justin Ross from behind by the Trail bench, resulting in a five-minute power play for the Smoke Eaters. Just under a minute into that man advantage, the Vees were able to capitalize on a shorthanded chance and Jacob Quillan opened the scoring in the Vees season.
Quillan gathered a loose puck on the right side of the ice and raced ahead with Tristan Amonte for an odd man rush. Quillan held in the right face-off circle and snapped a shot over the glove side of Smoke Eaters goaltender Logan Terness for his 1st career BC Hockey League goal and a 1-0 Vees advantage at the 7:58 mark of the opening period.
That was the lone goal in the frame as the Vees outshot the Smoke Eaters by a 10-9 margin over the course of 20 minutes. Lane was solid in his first period of game action in over four months, turning aside all 9 shots he faced while Terness stopped 9 of the 10 shots fired his way in the frame.
The Vees came out with a bang in the second period, finding the back of the net twice in a span of 20 seconds to begin the middle stanza with a pair of first BCHL goals. Switzerland’s Stefano Bottini was in the right place at the right time to earn his first marker after Ryan McGuire’s shot glanced off a shin pad and deflected right to Bottini in the bottom of the right face-off circle, pushing a shot past the glove side of Terness for a 2-0 lead just 17 seconds into the period.
20 seconds later, defender Frank Djurasevic was left wide open in the slot to give the visitors a 3-0 lead. Luc Wilson spotted the Vees rearguard from the corner and sent a pass to the slot where Djurasevic wristed a shot through the legs of Terness for his first career BCHL marker to put the Vees ahead by a 3-0 score 37 seconds into the frame.
Penticton was dealt another blow to their backend as the period went along with Ethan Martini being ejected from the game at the 7:55 mark of the 2nd period with a high hit on Smoke Eaters forward Coalson Wolford. The Vees killed the major penalty off before Trail’s Connor Michaud buried on a nice pass from Ryan Helliwell at the 19:23 mark to push the game to a 3-1 Vees lead after 40 minutes.
Tyler Ho provided the insurance in the 3rd period to stretch the Vees advantage to three goals once again at the 3:06 mark of the final period. A scramble in front of the net saw the puck pushed to the bottom of the left face-off circle as Ho buried his first of the season past the glove side of Terness to increase the Vees lead to 4-1.
Kaeden Lane was solid the rest of the way, making 13 saves in the final frame and 27 of 28 on the night for his first BCHL win. Logan Terness turned aside 33 of the 37 shots thrown his way in his first defeat of the new season.
FINAL SCORE: 4-1 Vees
SHOTS ON GOAL: 37-28 Vees
VEES PP: 0/3
VEES PK: 4/4
1) Frank Djurasevic (1-1-2)
2) Kaeden Lane (27 saves on 28 shots)
3) Connor Michaud (1-0-1)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Ryan Helliwell (0-1-1)
The Vees (1-0-0-0) conclude their opening weekend of play in the 2021 BCHL season with their first home game from the Penticton Pod against the Cranbrook Bucks (0-0-0-0) on Saturday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Puck drop is slated for 6:00 PM with the game broadcasted live on EZ Rock AM 800 as well as on HockeyTV.com beginning with the pre-game show at 6:40 PM with the Voice of the Vees, Trevor Miller.