Penticton, BC: The Penticton Vees (24-11-1-2) will head into the Christmas break on a three-game winning streak after a 4-3 win over the West Kelowna Warriors (22-16-0-1) Saturday night, a game that took nearly three hours to complete.
Eric Linell opened the scoring 3:31 into the game, firing a wrist shot over the blocker of the Brock Baier off the rush for his 21st goal of the season.
Five minutes later the Warriors evened the game as Max Bulawka took a pass in front of the net and beat a sprawling Jack LaFontaine to even the score. The teddy bears took about 20 minutes to clean up.
Linell restored Penticton’s lead with a shorthanded breakaway to give the Vees a 2-1 lead after the opening 20 minutes.
As the second period dragged on with whistle after whistle, the Vees eventually took a two-goal lead. Luke Loheit raced through the neutral zone at full speed before losing control in the right circle.
Loheit then stick lifted the Warriors defender so he couldn’t clear the puck, and Andre Ghantous found it and put it into the top corner over Baier’s glove 11 minutes into the period.
The Warriors scored on a power play late in the frame to cut the Vees lead to 3-2 heading into the final period.
Just over eight minutes into the third, Lukas Sillinger took a wrist shot on the power play from the high slot that made it’s way through traffic and past Baier’s blocker to restore the two-goal lead.
It didn’t last long as the Warriors scored on another power play with Lucas Cullen taking a pass to the goal line and spinning his way to the front of the net before putting the puck into the top corner.
While the Warriors continued to press, LaFontaine stood tall in the crease as West Kelowna outshot Penticton 26-11 in the third period. He finished with 41 saves to help Penticton sweep the weekend series.
The Vees head into the Christmas break in first place in the Interior Division, three points ahead of Wenatchee and Merritt. The Vees next game action isn’t until January 4 when they host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks to the South Okanagan Events Centre.