March 3, 2013, Trail, BC (ISN) – Brad McClure had an opening and this time he wasn’t going to miss. McClure scored his 27th of the season and more importantly the game-winner late in the third period as the Penticton Vees held off the Trail Smoke Eaters 5-4 Saturday.
The win snaps the Vees three game winless streak, and combined with Merritt’s loss Saturday, clinches first place in the Interior Division.
McClure was fed a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone by Sam Mellor and skated down the right-wing, beating Adam Todd with a wrist-shot over the blocker at 14:20 of the final frame. The goal coming after the Smoke Eaters erased a two-goal deficit with goals just sixty-six seconds apart.
Down 4-2 to start the third period, Trail made things interesting when Captain Garrett McMullen squeezed the puck through the arm of Chad Katunar on a redirect at 7:08. McMullen drove down the middle and redirected a Scott Davidson pass from the right-wing. Two shifts later it was Brent Baltus firing a shot from the left-circle past Bryan Sinz and into a vacated net after a scramble in the Vees zone at 8:14. Nic Renyard replaced Katunar after the fourth goal and played the final 11 minutes and change, making four saves for the win.
It was a much better start to the second for the Vees, as they built up a three goal lead on goals from Cody DePourcq and Mike Rebry. DePourcq gave the Vees a two-goal lead just past the three-minute mark. DePourcq wired a wrist-shot off the rush from the right-circle at 3:10 that fooled Todd on the far-side. Rebry pushed the lead to three when he swatted a bouncing puck over the goal-line in the blue paint. Rebry crashed the crease on an odd-man rush and the puck caromed off a Smokies defender and right to his stick at the far-post; a tap-in for his 18th at 9:08.
Trail cut into the lead in the final two-minutes of the second, with their second power-play goal of the game. Marley Keca’s point-shot bounced off Austin Adduono in front and by Katunar on the short-side at 18:16.
The Vees did finally take a lead into the first intermission on goals from Jedd Soleway and Louie Nanne. After Valik Chichkin opened the scoring on the power-play at 10:58, Soleway tied the game on a nifty redirect less than five-minutes later. Troy Stecher’s shot from the blue-line was neatly deflected by Soleway and underneath the glove of Adam Todd at 15:23; Soleway’s first goal in his first game back since serving a two-game suspension.
Louie Nanne gave the Vees their first lead of the game on a power-play goal of their own. Nanne took a backdoor pass from the left-wing and slid the puck between the out-stretched pad of Adam Todd and the near-post at 17:43 of the opening frame.
FINAL SCORE: 5-4 VEES
Shots: 35-31 Vees
Power-Play: Vees 1-3 Trail 2-4
Three Stars: 1) Garrett McMullen 2) Jedd Soleway 3) John Siemer
The win and Merritt’s 6-2 loss to West Kelowna, clinches first place in the Interior Division for the Vees, and home-ice advantage through to the Division Final. Their record within their own Division improves to 21-9-0-3; 11-3-0-2 on the road. Their overall record moves to 35-14-0-5, and they now sit tied for first in the BCHL with the Victoria Grizzlies in the league pennant race.
The Vees don’t hit the ice again until next Friday, March 8th when they make a stop in Vernon, to conclude their season series with the Vipers. The Vees wrap-up their regular season two days later back in Trail on Sunday, March 10th in a matinee affair