PHOTO: Tami Quan Photography
WEST KELOWNA, B.C. – The Penticton Vees used three power play goals and two shorthanded goals to defeat the West Kelowna Warriors by a 6-3 score on Tuesday night in a 1st place showdown at Royal LePage Place.
This was the first meeting between the Interior Conference rivals and it certainly showed in the early going as both teams wanted to get off to a hot start. After a play in which Chase Dafoe and the Warriors thought they had scored first, which was waved off due to an illegal equipment penalty that gave the Vees a power play, Penticton struck first courtesy of Spencer Smith and the man advantage.
Luc Wilson spotted Smith down the left-wing side as the Vees forward shuffled a puck through Warriors goaltender Johnny Derrick for his 2nd goal of the season at the 3:23 mark of the opening period to give Penticton a 1-0 lead. The power play goal extended a streak of 11 straight games for the Vees with a power play goal.
Just 10 seconds into the Warriors first power play of the game, the Vees extended their lead to 2-0 with their first shorthanded goal of the season. Stefano Bottini made a move to the left-wing side after chipping the puck past a Warriors defender and moved in on an odd-man rush as he sent a pass to the right side as Fin Williams collected and beat Derrick on the glove side for his 5th goal of the season and a 2-0 lead at the 8:11 mark of the opening period.
The 2nd period saw the Warriors get back into the game and cut the deficit within a goal as Alexi Van Houtte-Cachero finished off a nice passing play. Felix Trudeau sent a pass from the slot to the left face-off circle as Brennan Nelson centered a feed to the middle with Van Houtte-Cachero tapping in the loose puck on the glove side of Vees goaltender Kaeden Lane at the 6:10 mark of the 2nd period to make it a 2-1 Penticton lead.
The power play converted once again for the Vees and regained their two-goal lead courtesy of a 5-on-3 power play marker. Williams took a Wilson pass and hammered a slap shot from the top of the right face-off circle with Derrick making the initial save before Josh Nadeau reached into a pile in the front of the net and slipped the puck past the blocker side of Derrick for his team-leading 11th goal of the season and a 3-1 lead.
The second shorthanded goal of the game was scored in terrific fashion as Stefano Bottini extended the Vees lead to 4-1 at the 15:09 mark of the 2nd period. Bottini used good speed through the neutral zone to get past a Warriors forward and bounced off a Warriors defender before slipping the puck through the legs of Derrick for his 5th goal of the season and pushed Penticton ahead by a three-goal margin and ended the night for Johnny Derrick in the Warriors goal as Justin Katz took over the remainder of the game.
Frank Djurasevic extended his goal scoring streak to three games with his 3rd marker of the season at the 5:50 mark of the final period. A face-off win in the offensive zone saw the puck come to the blue line with Djurasevic letting a shot go from the right point that had eyes for the net, beating Katz on the blocker side to make it a 5-1 game.
The Warriors came back to make it a game in the later stages of the 3rd period with goals from Riley Sharun at 12:50 of the final period and John Evans at the 14:58 mark of the 3rd frame made it a 5-3 game before the Vees converted for the third time in the game on the power play.
A loose puck laid in the left face-off circle for Ethan Mann, who had his shot sneak through the glove side of Katz for his 3rd goal of the season at the 17:33 mark of the final period to finish off the scoring and ice a 6-3 final score in favour of Penticton.
Kaeden Lane stood tall once again for the Vees, turning aside 37 of the 40 shots thrown his way in his 8th win of the season while Johnny Derrick started for the Warriors, making 25 saves on 29 shots in his 3rd loss of the season before Justin Katz finished the game in making 5 saves on 7 shots.
FINAL SCORE: 6-3 Vees
SHOTS ON GOAL: 40-36 Warriors
VEES PP: 3/5
VEES PK: 5/5
1) Fin Williams (1-1-2)
2) Stefano Bottini (1-2-3)
3) Felix Trudeau (1-0-1)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Pat Lawn (0-0-0)
The Vees (12-2-0-0) return home for their first matchup of the season against the Merritt Centennials (0-12-1-0) on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with tickets available for purchase online at valleyfirsttix.com as well as at the SOEC Box Office. The game will also be broadcasted live on Bounce Radio 800 as well as streamed on BCHLTV.ca beginning with the pre-game show at 6:40 PM.