It was the rookies turn to shine on Friday night, in the Penticton Vees 5-1 win over the Merritt Centennials at the SOEC. Four of the five Vees’ goals were scored by first-year forwards, as Penticton pushed their win streak to six games.
Rookies Grant Cruikshank, Turner Ripplinger, Ty Amonte and Ty Barnstable all scored in the win; Ripplinger and Barnstable picking up their first career BCHL goals. 20-year-old Ryley Risling scored the Vees’ other goal, as they won their for the second time on home ice this season.
Mat Robson stopped 27 of 28 shots for his league-leading seventh win and was less than three-minutes away from his second shutout of the season. Michael Faulkner was the only Cent to sneak a shot by the Vees’ goaltender.
After a scoreless first period, it was the Vees’ much maligned power-play breaking the ice in the middle frame. Just eight-seconds into their only power-play of the game, Cruikshank wheeled into the slot and rifled a shot over Jacob Berger’s glove at 5:31; Cruikshank scoring his team-leading eighth of the season.
That goal seemed to get the ball rolling for Penticton, as they scored two more before the period was out. Ripplinger doubled the Vees’ lead six-minutes after Cruikshank put the Vees ahead.
Taylor Ward found the puck along the boards and spun and fired a shot from the left-wing. Ripplinger somehow managed to get his stuck on the shot, redirecting it, waist-high, and in past Berger at 5:31.
The lead ballooned to three after Amonte got in on the scoring in the final frame. During a lengthy sequence in the Merritt zone, Owen Sillinger managed to fire the puck into the crease to Amonte, who tipped-in that pass with his feet firmly planted in the blue paint; Amonte picking up his fourth six-minutes in.
Both teams traded goals inside the final four-minutes. First, Merritt spoiled Robson’s shutout bid with a power-play goal of their own. Michael Faulkner let go a point-shot that looked to have touched someone, or something, before beating Robson over the glove at 16:19. The Vees didn’t stew about that goal for very long and got it back before the game ended.
Inside the final minute Ward set up another Vees’ rookie for a milestone goal. On an odd-man rush, Ward chipped the puck across to Barnstable on the near-side and he managed to force a shot underneath and through Berger with just 50-seconds left.
Line-mates and former Regina Pat Canadians, Barnstable and Ripplinger scoring their first career goals on the same night
FINAL SCORE: 5-1 Vees
Shots: 39-28 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 1-1 Merritt 1-2
Three Stars: 1) Ryley Risling 2) Grant Cruikshank 3) Turner Ripplinger
The Vees improve their record to 8-1-0-0 and are undefeated in their first two home games of the year. Friday was Merritt’s first loss to an Interior Division team this season, as they won their previous five divisional games.
These two teams meet again tomorrow night in Merritt, for the back-half of their Thanksgiving weekend home-and-home series; puck drop is 7 pm. The game can be heard on EZ Rock AM 800, and fans can watch online at www.fasthockey.com