November 12, 2012, CHILLIWACK, BC (ISN) – Brad McClure and Ryan Gropp each scored twice and the Penticton Vees erased an early first period deficit but it wasn’t enough, as the Chilliwack Chiefs outlasted the Vees 5-4 Saturday night at Prospera Centre.
One week ago the Chiefs got the better of the Vees, winning 4-1 at the SOEC. Fast-forward seven days later and it was the Chiefs again coming out on top. Saturday’s win moves the Chiefs past the Vees for top spot in the BCHL with 14 wins and 30 points.
The Vees dug themselves a hole early, going down two goals eight-minutes in. Josh Hansen scored short-handed at 4:41 to open the scoring. Hansen pick-pocketed Brock Balson in front of the Vees goal, before surprising Nic Renyard with a quick shot that snuck through his legs
Less than four minutes later, Jaret Babych doubled the Chiefs lead when he pounced on a rebound. After Renyard stopped the first two shots in-close, Babych found a loose puck at the top of the crease and put it into the open side past an outstretched Renyard at 8:13.
The Vees caught a break moments later when Mitch Gillam had a mishap playing the puck at the side of his net. Ryan Gropp intercepted a clearing attempt by Gillam on the right-wing boards and fired the puck into the yawning cage at 9:43. The goal seemed to spark the Vees, as Brad McClure put the Vees back on even terms late in the frame.
On a two-on-one, McClure came down the right-wing and wired a wrist-shot over Gillam’s glove at 15:10; McClure’s 10th of the season.
The see-saw battle continued into the middle stanza, as the Chiefs retook the lead on a fortuitous bounce. Trevor Hills let go a wrist-shot from the left-wing wall that pin-balled off a Vees defender’s skate and past Renyard at 14:42 putting the Chiefs up 3-2.
However the Vees continued to push back and Ryan Gropp picked up his second goal, on the power-play, at 17:28 to level the game once again. Gropp corralled a puck in the circle and fired a shot into a gaping net for his third in two nights, dating back to Friday’s contest with Merritt.
Just as they did in the second, the Chiefs again went ahead in the third period, this time using their power-play to manufacture a goal. Luke Esposito nabbed a loose puck in front of the Vees goal and put a back-hand into the open side at 5:19.
Trevor Hills padded the Chiefs lead when he picked up his second of the game 10:56. Hills, from the top of the circles beat Renyard with a wrist-shot that banked-in off the post.
Brad McClure kick-started the Vees rally in the latter half of the stanza when he capitalized on a Chiefs turn-over at the blue-line. Ben Israel coughed up the puck to Jordan McCallum, who had his shot blocked but the biscuit skipped to McClure who potted his 11th at 13:33.
However, for the second straight night the Vees rally ran out of gas in the final frame. The Chiefs held off a surge by the Vees in the dying moments to win their fourth straight; the Vees fourth loss in a row.
FINAL SCORE: 5-4 CHIEFS
Shots: 39-28 Chiefs
Power-Plays: VEES 1-4 CHIEFS 1-3
Three Stars: 1) Trevor Hills 2) Jaret Babych 3) Ryan Gropp
Vees Notes: The loss drops the Vees record to 13-5-0-2 and combined with Merritt’s win over Trail Saturday, the Vees lead atop of the Interior Division shrinks to two points.
Brad McClure snapped a three game goal-less drought with his 10th & 11th goals of the year. Ryan Gropp’s power-play goal in the second was the Vees first in four games, ending a 0-13 slide.
Up Next: The Vees are on the road again Wednesday, November 14th when they pay a visit to the Merritt Centennials; puck drop is 7pm. Wednesday marks the Vees first visit to the Nicola Valley Arena.
The Vees next home game is Friday, November 16th when they host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Tickets are available at the Valley First box office at the SOEC, or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com