Penticton, BC: The Penticton Vees (20-8-1-2) took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission against the Trail Smoke Eaters (11-15-4-2) Saturday night, and held onto that lead for a 3-2 win, sweeping the weekend home and home.
A scoreless first period saw the Smoke Eaters outshoot the Vees 11-7, as Trail came out with an expected strong start following the Vees 7-4 win in Trail Friday night. Jack LaFontaine held the fort for Penticton, leading into the second period.
The middle frame started and the first whistle didn’t come until the Vees scored. Andre Ghantous took a pass behind the defence and caught the Smoke Eaters on a change, firing a shot into the top corner over Adam Marcoux’s glove 6:06 into the period.
Two minutes later, Ghantous sent the puck down to the goal line for James Miller, who sent it on net. Marcoux steered it into the slot where Jackson Niedermayer was able to shoot it into the open net for his second goal of the season.
After a late penalty to Massimo Rizzo for tripping, the Vees capped off the second period scoring. While shorthanded, Miller sent a stretch pass to Eric Linell who was flying down the right wing. Linell had a 2-on-1 with Jack Barnes, but wound up and hammered a slap shot past Marcoux with just 44 seconds remaining.
Early in the third the Vees found themselves shorthanded. Lukas Sillinger was given a five-minute major for a blow to the head penalty on Mack Byers, ending Sillinger’s night. It was his first game since October 10.
On the man advantage, the Smoke Eaters were able to cut into the lead. Kent Johnson sent the puck through the crease to Carter Jones who beat LaFontaine over the blocker to make it 3-1.
After killing off another lengthy penalty, a four-minute spearing call against Barnes, the Vees would surrender a late goal.
With the Trail net empty, the Smoke Eaters dumped the puck in and LaFontaine gathered it behind his net. After holding on to the puck for a few seconds, LaFontaine looked to hit the empty net, but his shot attempt was caught by Hayden Rowan who had an open net to make it 3-2 with a minute to go.
Penticton would hold on for the win, sweeping the home and home series. Penticton is now off until next Friday when they begin another home-and-home set, this one against the Wenatchee Wild. It will be the first time in four weeks the Vees don’t have a mid-week game. Announced attendance was 3,008.