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Vees sweep Express, advance to second round

Photo credit: Damon James

Coquitlam, BC: The Penticton Vees completed their sweep of the Coquitlam Express with a 2-1 win Wednesday night, advancing to the second round where they will play the Trail Smoke Eaters.

The Express elected to start Clay Stevenson over Brock Hamm, in the decision paid off immediately as the Vees fired 25 shots at the Express goaltender in the first period, but went into the second in a scoreless tie.

In the dying seconds of a power play that carried over from the first period, Owen Sillinger had a puck deflect to him near the right wing goal line and fired it past Stevenson just 1:22 into the second period.

Not long after, the Express were given a power play of their own and evened the game. Jonathan Sheardown took a shot from the left point that was deflected on it’s way to the goal. The puck deflected over Adam Scheel and went into the net three minutes after the Vees had tied the game.

Twice over the duration of the period it looked like the Vees had taken the lead, but both goals were called back.

The first was Lukas Sillinger finding a loose puck in the crease and swiping at it with his stick and skate. The puck went into the net, but the officials immediately waved it off, saying Sillinger kicked it in.

Later in the period, Lukas again appeared to give the Vees a 2-1 lead. After his first shot from inside the left circle was stopped, the rebound came right back to him and he fired another shot on net. With Stevenson down, the puck appeared to hit the back post and come right out, but the officials said the puck hit the crossbar and stayed out.

Despite outshooting the Express 42-21, the two teams went into the third period deadlocked at one. Eight minutes into the third Penticton regained their lead.

After blocking a shot, Massimo Rizzo raced ahead through centre to begin a two-on-one rush. Rizzo came down the left wing before sending the puck to Taylor Ward who was able to fire it past an outstretched Stevenson to give Penticton a 2-1 lead.

The Vees had numerous chances to extend their lead, most notably after Stevenson turned the puck over behind his net. It looked like Chris Klack had a wide open net, but the Express defender was able to get his stick on the puck just as Klack was shooting to save a goal.

Stevenson was pulled for the extra attacker late in the period, but the Express were only able to manage a few shots on net as Penticton held on for the 2-1 win, advancing to the second round.

After the top four seeds in the Interior Division swept their opening rounds, the Vees will now matchup against the Smoke Eaters in round two. Penticton had a record of 4-1-0-1 against Trail this season. Game one will be Friday, March 16 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.