PHOTO: Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography
PENTICTON, B.C. – The Penticton Vees saw their 10-game winning streak come to a close on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre in a fast-paced 3-2 defeat to the Coquitlam Express.
In a matchup of the top two teams in the BC Hockey League, there was plenty of skill and emotion early on as both teams came out with a jump in the hockey game. Yaniv Perets had to be strong in the early going in the Vees crease, making a good stop on Will Margel on the glove side after a cross ice crease.
The Express would use a power play to score first in the opening frame as Adam Trotman put the visitors ahead. Greg Lapointe held in the puck at the left point and had his wrist shot careen off the end boards to the right corner as Josh Wildauer passed to the top of the crease where Trotman banged the puck past Perets on the blocker side at the 9:18 mark to push Coquitlam ahead 1-0.
The lead was short-lived as Penticton came back and tied the score at the 10:59 mark with Lukas Sillinger becoming the 5th Vee to tally 20 goals on the season. Sillinger took a pass in the neutral zone before deferring to David Silye as the two crossed the blue line. Sillinger got a pass back again from the left face-off circle in the slot and fired a shot over the glove side of Express netminder Clay Stevenson to even the score at 1-1.
Each team fired 13 shots on goal in the opening period with both Perets and Stevenson standing tall, each making 12 saves to see the game knotted at 1-1 after the opening 20 minutes of play.
The Vees collected their first lead of the game at the 5:23 mark of the 2nd period with a power play of their own pushed the home side ahead. Jay O’Brien took a pass at the top of the left face-off circle from Liam Malmquist and wired a one-time shot over the glove side of Stevenson for his 24th goal of the season and a 2-1 Penticton advantage in the opening part of the middle stanza.
Just under three minutes later, another power play marker for the Express evened the score at the 8:07 mark. A centering pass from the right side by Wildauer bounced to the front of the net as Cooper Connell finished the play on a scramble in front of the net on the blocker side of Perets to even the score at 2-2.
Stevenson remained busy in the second half of the 2nd frame as the Vees peppered the Express goal, pushing 23 pucks on net in the middle stanza with Stevenson the difference in the Coquitlam crease, making 22 saves in the 2nd period and 34 overall through 40 minutes. Perets remained strong as well, stopping 9 of the 10 shots he saw in the 2nd and 21 of 23 through two periods.
The Express broke the 3rd period tie just under three minutes into the frame as Greg Lapointe was sent on a breakaway with the Vees making a change. Lapointe got the puck at the Vees blue line and made a move to his backhand, finishing the play over the glove of Perets at the 2:59 mark of the final period to give the visiting Express a 3-2 advantage.
Both teams locked things down defensively before Coquitlam had a golden opportunity to take a two-goal lead with Perets making his best save of the night and possibly the season. Lapointe came down the left wing and sent a pass to the right side where Connell took the pass and shot before Perets came across on the glove side and snapped the puck with his catching mitt to keep the game at 3-2.
The Vees pulled the goaltender with just over a minute to play but were unable to find the back of the net as Clay Stevenson stopped all 7 shots he faced in the 3rd period and 41 of the 43 shots thrown his way in his 30th victory of the season. Yaniv Perets was solid in the game as well, stopping 27 of the 30 shots he faced in his 8th defeat of the year.
FINAL SCORE: 3-2 Express
SHOTS ON GOAL: 43-30 Vees
VEES PP: 1/4
VEES PK: 3/5
1) Clay Stevenson (41 saves on 43 shots)
2) Greg Lapointe (1-2-3)
3) Lukas Sillinger (1-0-1)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Steve Holtz (0-0-0)
The Vees (41-12-1-1) remain on home ice to continue a regular season-ending nine game home stand as they host the Island Division’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs (25-25-1-2) on Church Night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Puck drop is slated for 6:00 PM with tickets available at the SOEC Box Office as well as online at ValleyFirstTix.com.