by Fraser Rodgers
March 4, 2014, PENTICTON, BC (ISN) – In a series billed for its defense, it was the offense taking center stage, as the Penticton Vees cruised to an 8-0 win over the Merritt Centennials, in Game One of their Interior Division Semi-Final series Tuesday.
Coming into the series opener, the Vees and Cents’ were the two top defensive teams in the Interior Division and both were inside the top six in the BCHL, in terms of goals against.
Early, goals were hard to come by, as the Vees were held off the scoresheet for nearly thirty-minutes, but when the scored, they kept on scoring.
Brad McClure broke a scoreless tie midway through the second, when he buried from the slot after a favorable bounce in the slot. As a Vees power-play was expiring, Brett Beauvais had has shot kick-off a defenders skate and right to McClure in the slot, who roofed his first of the post-season over Devin Kero at 9:48.
Less than a minute and a half later, Matt Serratore doubled the Vees lead after some great fore-check pressure. Jack Ramsey stripped the defender of the puck in the corner, and then threw it out front to Serratore for a tap-in at 11:09; his first point in nine games.
Cody DePourcq capped off the scoring in the second period, when tucked-in a wrap-around at 13:34. DePourcq was stopped once but on his second time around, he outwaited Kero and slid the puck past his pad on the glove-side.
In the third, the Vees picked up right where they left off in the second. Cam Amantea scored the Vees fourth goal just 28 seconds into the period. Amantea charged the net and was hit with a centering pass from Riley Alferd from the right-wing.
Then it was Alferd going from playmaker to goal-scorer, as he padded the Vees lead just past the four-minute mark. Ramsey threw the puck at the net from the boards and Alferd tucked-in the rebound from inside the crease at 4:03.
That goal chased Merritt’s Devin Kero from the net, as he was replaced by Jarrod Schamerhorn for the last fifteen-minutes.
Despite the goaltender switcheroo, the Vees kept coming; Paul Stoykewych made 6-0 on a wrist-shot from the left-circle. Stoykewych and Shane McColgan played give-and-go in the neutral zone, before the Vees rear-guard darted down the left-wing and buried his first in 29 games at 8:27.
McColgan got in on the act, as he scored his first of the post-season two-minutes later. Nic Pierog fired a pass from the corner to McColgan in the high-slot, who then hammered a slap-shot through Schamerhorn’s legs at 10:50.
Brad McClure kicked-off the festivities in the second and put the finishing touches on the night in the third. On a five-on-three power-play, McClure beat Schamerhorn on the blocker-side from the slot with eight-minutes left.
Final Score: 8-0 Vees
Shots: 44-20 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 1-4 Merritt 0-1
Three Stars: 1) Matt Serratore 2) Jack Ramsey 3) Riley Alferd
With the win, the Vees lead the best-of-seven series 1-0, with game two set for tomorrow night. Eight Vees finished with two or more points in the win and 12 picked up at least a point. Cody DePourcq, Shane McColgan and Matt Serratore each finished with a goal and three points. Olivier Mantha stopped all 20 shots he faced, including 12 in the second, for his first career playoff shutout. The eight goals tonight is the second-highest output by the Vees this season; they scored nine against Chilliwack back on November 30th.
The Vees look to hold serve tomorrow night at home, when they host the Centennials in game two of their best-of-seven Interior Division Semi-Final; puck drop is slated for 7pm. Virgin Mobile is giving away cowbells to the first 750 fans, and beer and soft drinks are only $2.50; hotdogs just $3. The rock band Fluxx will also be performing live throughout the evening. Tickets are available at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC, or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com