HUMBOLDT, Sask. (ISN) – Joey Benik scored the game-winning goal early in the third period as the Penticton Vees earned their first win of the 2012 RBC Cup with a 2-1 victory over the Woodstock Slammers on Tuesday night.
The win stopped Penticton’s first two-game losing streak of the year and kept the Vees from becoming the first Pacific Region team to start the National Junior A Championship 0-3 since the Vernon Vipers in 1999 (although the Vipers ended up winning the national title).
Benik tipped a Mike Reilly point shot past Woodstock goaltender Matt Murphy to give Penticton (1-2) a couple of firsts at this year’s tournament: Benik’s goal was the first scored on the power play by the Vees, and gave them their first lead.
Ryan Reilly scored the other goal for the Vees, who entered the national championship as the CJHL’s top-ranked team, but were the last in the five-team field without a victory before Tuesday night, a shocking turn of events considering Penticton won 70 of 80 regular season and playoff games this season.
Andrew Langan had the lone goal for Woodstock (1-2), giving the Slammers a short-lived 1-0 lead, as Reilly tied it just 80 seconds after Langan’s icebreaker. Woodstock couldn’t build on the momentum from its Monday night win over Portage – it managed only 21 shots on Vees netminder Michael Garteig, and was outshot 41-21.
The Penticton win leaves a four-way log jam for second place, with the Vees, Slammers and Soo Thunderbirds all sitting at 1-2, while Portage is 1-1 after four days of action.
The Vees will look to clinch a berth in Saturday’s semifinals when they closes out their preliminary round on Wednesday night against Portage (7:30 p.m. MT), while Woodstock will try to book a Saturday spot of its own on Thursday afternoon against the Soo (3 p.m. MT).