February 17, 2013, Merritt, BC (ISN) – An opening period that the Vees would like to forget ended up being one they won’t, as the Merritt Centennials came out with a 3-2 win Saturday at Nicola Valley Arena.
The loss snaps the Vees two-game win streak and is their second in eight days at the hands of the Centennials; Merritt blanking the Vees 1-0 on February 8th.
The Vees spotted the Centennials a 2-0 lead in the opening period and never did look comfortable. Bennett Huber opened the scoring off a rebound at the post, as he tucked the puck under the bar at 7:47. Chad Katunar stopped the point-shot with his pad but the rebound jumped right to Huber who wasted little time in getting the puck off his stick.
The Centennials doubled their lead in the unlikeliest of fashions late in the period. Short-handed, down two skaters, Sam Johnson threw a puck from his own side of center at the Vees net. Katunar came out to play the puck only to have it knife-off the heel of his stick and into the open net at 17:30.
Controversy arose late in the period when the Vees thought they had scored their first on the power-play. Louie Nanne batted the puck out of the air at the side of the net. The referee behind the goal immediately waived off the goal, ruling the puck was contacted with a high stick. The four officials deliberated for a few moments but ruled no goal. It appeared Nanne’s stick never went higher than his waist. However, the Vees would indeed the break down by a pair.
Maybe spurred on by the disallowed goal, the Vees turned things around in the second, as they started to dictate the flow of play and generated momentum. That climaxed with John Siemer cutting the deficit in half with a power-play goal at 6:02. Siemer was first to a loose puck during a goal-mouth scrabble, and potted his 23rd of the season to bring the Vees within one; his first goal in seven games.
Siemer again showed up on the score-sheet late in the middle stanza, as he dropped the gloves with Silvan Harper; the tussle resembling more of a wrestling match.
Another period and another controversy on a disallowed goal, as Travis Blanleil looked like he tied the game. The Cents coughed up the puck in the slot; Blanleil quickly turned and fired a howitzer over the glove of Tyler Steel. The Referee waived it off and played continued as he deemed it hit the cross-bar; it appeared to tag the middle bar at the back of the net then jet out. The Vees, despite all their pressure, only could muster the one goal, officially, and headed into the third period down by one.
The Vees momentum carried over into the final frame, as they pressured the Cents from the get go. The Vees generated a handful of quality looks but were plagued by blocked and errant shots.
Against the flow of play, Sebastien Pare, who had goals in his previous three games, capitalized on a turnover at the blue-line to restore the Cents two-goal lead. Pare walked in on the left-wing, on a two-on-one and wired a wrist-shot over the glove of Katunar at 13:44.
Cam Amantea gave the Vees life late in the third period, as he scored off the rush at 17:51. Amantea skated over the blue-line, went wide to the outside of the left-circle and caught Tyler Steel off his post with a wrist-shot on the near-side.
The Vees mustered a late surge with the net empty but weren’t able to find the equalizer in the dying moments, coming up one goal short again to the Centennials.
FINAL SCORE: 3-2 Centennials
Shots: 38-27 Vees
Power-Play: Vees 1-5 Merritt 0-1
Three Stars: 1) Tyler Steel 2) Bennett Huber 3) Chad Katunar
The Vees record drops to 33-13-0-3 and their lead atop of the Interior Division shrinks to four points. The Centennials have now won three straight against the Vees and hold a 4-2 record against Penticton in six games.
The Vees get right back at it tomorrow afternoon when they host the Cowichan Valley Capitals at the SOEC; matinee goes at 5pm. The Vees won the first meeting back on October 13th 3-0. Tickets are available at the Valley First box office at the SOEC, or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com