PHOTO: Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography
PENTICTON, B.C. – The Penticton Vees came-from-behind after trailing 3-0 in the 3rd period with Jay O’Brien tallying the game winning goal in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Wenatchee Wild on Saturday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The visitors were first to find the back of the net at the 2:36 mark of the opening period as Ethan Wolthers put the Wild ahead. Drew Bavaro gathered the puck and made his way to the midpoint before blasting a shot on goal that Vees goaltender Carl Stankowski kicked out with his right pad before Wolthers was on the puck and batted the rebound past the blocker side to push Wenatchee ahead by a 1-0 score.
Penticton responded well after the goal, spending time inside the Wenatchee end but were unable to beat Wild goaltender Noah Altman before the visitors extended their lead to 2-0. A scramble in front of the goal after the puck was put to the net from the blue line resulted in Matt Dorsey poking the puck past the glove side of Stankowski to give Wenatchee a two-goal advantage at the 9:55 mark of the opening period.
The scoring was capped off in the opening stanza with Drake Usher putting the Wild ahead by a 3-0 score. Usher took a shot from the left point that redirected off a Vee in front of the goal and up and over the glove side of Stankowski that pushed the Wild ahead by a three-goal advantage at the 16:01 mark of the 1st period.
Penticton opened the 2nd period with a strong push, trying to get back into the hockey game and had numerous chances in the middle stanza to get on the scoreboard, including a big save on Jackson Niedermayer on the blocker side after being fed the puck from David Silye in the right face-off circle while the Vees were on the power play.
On that same man advantage, David Silye had an open look on goal as he got a pass from Jay O’Brien in the right face-off circle and labelled a shot for the top corner before Altman came over and snapped the puck away with his glove to keep the three-goal advantage in tact for Wenatchee.
The Vees did all they could but score in the middle period, forcing 17 shots on goal in the 2nd period with Altman turning aside each one of them, making saves on each of the 28 shots he faced through 40 minutes of action while Carl Stankowski made saves on 20 of the 23 shots thrown his way through two periods in the Vees crease.
Penticton continued to pour on the pressure in the 3rd period and got through to the back of the net with Jackson Niedermayer burying a loose puck on a scramble. Danny Weight had his deflection at the top of the crease go off the cross bar before Niedermayer knocked in the rebound for his 23rd goal of the season and cut the deficit to two goals at 3-1.
Just 1:34 later, Lukas Sillinger pushed Penticton to within a goal with his 21st tally of the season. Nico Somerville sent a pass to the right wing where Weight collected and shot toward the net, with a scramble ensuing in front of Altman. Sillinger dug for the puck and pushed it across the goal line at the 7:49 mark of the final regulation frame to make it a 3-2 game.
A penalty negated an empty net tally for the Wild and the Vees took advantage, tying the game with 49 seconds remaining as Sillinger buried his second of the contest. The Vees forward gathered the puck at the goal line and patiently outwaited Altman as he moved to his left and lifted the puck over the sprawled goaltender to tie game with his 22nd goal of the season and forced overtime.
Both teams had terrific chances in the extra frame, including a Vees power play which saw Altman make a big save, moving from his right to his left to deny O’Brien of a game winning goal before the Vees came back and conclude the regular season on a winning note and completed the comeback.
Weight gathered the puck in the neutral zone and carried across the blue line on the left wing, sending a pass to the right side with O’Brien collecting and beating a diving Altman to his glove side for his 25th goal of the season to help the Vees to their 44th win of the season and a 4-3 overtime victory.
Carl Stankowski turned aside 27 of the 30 shots he faced in his 14th victory of the season while Noah Altman stopped 43 of the 47 shots thrown his way in his 1st overtime defeat of the year.
FINAL SCORE: 4-3 Vees (OT)
SHOTS ON GOAL: 47-30 Vees
VEES PP: 0/3
VEES PK: 1/1
1) Jay O’Brien (1-1-2)
2) Lukas Sillinger (2-0-2)
3) Noah Altman (43 saves on 47 shots)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Ethan Martini (0-0-0)
Tickets are now on sale as the Vees will face-off against the West Kelowna Warriors in the opening round of the Shaw BCHL Playoffs. The best-of-seven Interior Division Quarter Final gets underway on Thursday, February 27th with Game #1 at the South Okanagan Events Centre with a 7:00 PM puck drop. Tickets are available for purchase at the Valley First Box Office as well as online at ValleyFirstTix.com.