Penticton, BC: The Penticton Vees (19-8-1-2) turned in a major bounce-back performance over the Trail Smoke Eaters (11-14-4-2) Friday night, skating away with a 7-4 victory.
Eric Linell opened the scoring in the first, intercepting a deflected Jack Lagerstrom shot and backhanding it past Adam Marcoux 9:37 into the game.
Ryan Sandelin extended the lead four minutes later, jumping on the rebound of a James Miller wrist shot while on the power play, scoring his 19th of the season to give the Vees a 2-0 lead after the opening period.
After the Smoke Eaters had a strong opening shift to begin the second, David Silye skated into the Trail zone before firing a wrist into the top corner over Marcoux’s blocker to make it 3-0.
The Smoke Eaters got on the board four minutes after the goal as Owen Ozar tipped in a pass from Trevor Zins on the rush, beating Jack LaFontaine on the blocker side to make it 3-1.
Penticton quickly got the goal back as Mason Snell let a slap shot go from the slot on the power play, beating Marcoux clean who was screened on the shot. It was Snell’s second goal of the season.
Less than a minute later, Trail capitalized on a Vees mistake. As Trail began skating up ice, an official put his hand up to signal a penalty. The Vees thought it was coming against Trail, so LaFontaine sprinted to the bench. The penalty was against Penticton, allowing Chase Stevenson to score into an empty net.
Before the period as up, Andre Ghantous ended a 15-game goalless drought. After taking a long stretch pass from Lagerstrom, Ghantous came in on a breakaway and slid the puck past Marcoux with 2:44 remaining. The Vees were given a power play with just 11 seconds left in the period as Carter Jones was ejected from the game for a checking from behind call against Cassidy Bowes.
Trail took advantage while on the penalty kill as Mack Byers took a feed from below the goal line and beat LaFontaine on the glove side just 30 seconds into the period.
The Vees quickly got the goal back as Bowes caught Marcoux looking the wrong way while pulling the puck out from behind the net, sliding into the open net with just one second remaining on the power play.
Sandelin scored his second of the game by finding the rebound from Miller’s wrist shot that missed the net, but came off the end wall and bounced to the side of the net. It was his 20th goal of the season.
The goal prompted a goaltending change for Trail, as 16-year-old Logan Terness took over in net, playing in front of his home crowd. He had a dream debut stopping all 15 shots he faced in relief.
Trail added a late goal to make the final score 7-4. The two teams will meet again at the South Okanagan Events Centre Saturday at 6:00, signalling the end of a 12-games-in-25-days-stretch for Penticton.