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Recap: Meier’s hat-trick leads Vees past Salmon Arm

SALMON ARM, B.C. – The Penticton Vees picked up their first win against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks this season, with their 5-2 victory at the Shaw Centre Friday night.

It was the Vees first win in four tries against the Silverbacks this season, as they stayed two points ahead of West Kelowna for top spot in the Interior Conference. Penticton is now six points up on the third place Silverbacks.

Post-game, Assistant Coach Matthew Vanden Berg applauded his team’s preparation, “We focused on our own game. We talked as a group on what we needed to do tonight, and we stuck to that process. We did a good job of getting to the net and because of that we scored a couple of greasy ones.”

Penticton’s Simon Meier led the way, as he recorded his first career hat-trick in the win. Cade Littler and Thomas Pichette also scored. Meier is the sixth Vee to record a hat-trick this season and the first since November 3rd.

Speaking of going to net, all three of Meier’s goals came right around the Salmon Arm goal and that didn’t go unnoticed by the Vees’ coaches.

“For a smaller guy, Simon been working on finding that next layer to his game and tonight is what he needs to do going forward. He is starting to adjust to the North American game. I hope tonight is a realization for him that he can score in different ways,” commented Vanden Berg.

Andrew Ness picked up the win as he stopped 19 of 21 shots in the Vees’ net. Ness is now 8-1 in his last nine games and has posted a 1.22 goals-against average and .948 save percentage over that stretch.

Meier opened the scoring on the power play just shy of the nine minute mark. Littler was stopped on the initial attempt in the crease, but the 18-year-old Meier was there to jump in the rebound at the side of the net.

Salmon Arm tied the game just before the first intermission as Isaac Lambert beat Ness on the stick side with 52 seconds left in the opening period.

Penticton retook the lead in the second where they scored three times on 15 shots. Meier picked up his second of the game at 11:45, after Ryan MacPherson spotted him with a cross-ice pass to the back post. Meier’s ninth made it 2-1 for the Vees.

Littler than put the Vees up by two just 25 seconds later, as he scored on a wraparound to make it 3-1. Littler’s seventh goal was his second in as many games, going back to Saturday against Surrey.

The two-goal lead was short lived as the Silverbacks’ Riley Ashe scored half a minute after Littler to make it 3-2 at 12:45. The two teams combined for three goals in just 60 seconds.

The Vees restored their two-goal advantage inside the final two minutes of the middle frame when Meier scored his hat-trick goal. The Swiss forward got a piece of Daniel Buchbinder’s point shot and steered it past the Silverbacks’ Eli Pulver at 18:34 to make it 4-2.

In the third period, Anselmo Rego was awarded a penalty shot five minutes in, but was stopped by Pulver. Rego tried to put his backhand attempt through the goalie’s pads, but Pulver just managed to close the door in time.

Penticton put the game out of reach when Thomas Pichette scored into an empty net at 17:34 to put the Vees up 5-2.

Meier now has four goals in his last two games and has scored the opening goal back-to-back games.

GAME STATS

Penticton 5 at Salmon Arm 2

Shots: 33-21, Vees

Vees Scoring: Simon Meier (3), Cade Littler, Thomas Pichette

Vees Goaltending: Andrew Ness (W) 60:00 19/21

Power-Plays

Vees: 1/2

Silverbacks: 0/2

Three Stars:

1) Simon Meier

2) Cade Littler

3) Isaac Lambert

NEXT GAME: The Vees (26-7-2-2) visit the Merritt Centennials (13-19-3-1) on Sunday, February 4th; puck drop is 2:00 pm