PENTICTON, BC-Zach Driscoll knows how to pick his spots. The Penticton Vees netminder, with his parents in the crowd, stopped all 28-shots he faced, as the Vees shutout the visiting Vernon Vipers 3-0 Friday night at the SOEC.
The win is the Vees fifth in a row and third in as many games against Vernon this season.
Scott Conway spearheaded the offense as he scored his 24th of the season and finished with three points. Easton Brodzinski scored his BCHL-best 13th power-play goal and Nic Jones scored in his fourth straight game, as the Vees kept their perfect record at home intact.
Andrew Shortridge was admirable in defeat, as the Vernon puck-stopper turned aside 42 of 45 shots fired his way; he was named the game’s second star.
It was a fairly evenly played first period, as both goalies shared the spotlight, combining for 27 saves in a scoreless opening frame. The Vees best chance came off the stick of Conway but his shot from the wing kissed-off the cross-bar behind Shortridge.
The scoreless deadlock was finally broken in the latter half of the second period, as the Vees power-play finally broke through on its fifth attempt. Brodzinski, camped out at the side of the net, stuck out his stick and got a piece of Conway’s slap shot at 13:20; Brodzinski scoring his 21st of the season.
Penticton took the 1-0 lead into the intermission and in large part because of a timely save by Driscoll. Odeen Tufto fired a shot from the right-wing that Driscoll kicked out but right in front to Colton McCarthy. The Vipers’ Captain looked to have an open side, but Driscoll then lunged across to his right and got his blocker on the rebound attempt.
The Vees finally pulled away in the back half of the third period, scoring twice in just over four-minutes. First, Conway doubled the Vees lead 11-minutes in, when he pushed a dribbling puck in across the line from the crease. During an extended sequence in the Vernon end, Brodzinski moved in close but had his shot stopped by the goalie’s blocker. The rebound bounced down and over to Conway for the tap-in at 11:15; that goal moving him into a tie with Tyson Jost for the team goal-scoring lead.
Jones put the final touches on the win with his seventh of year after a slick passing play in the Vernon end. The play started with Jost firing a backhand pass over to Conway, who then quickly found Jones in front. The 19-year-old went down to a knee to tip the puck underneath Shortridge; Jones icing it at 15:52.
Final Score: 3-0 Vees
Shots: 45-28 Vees
Power-Play: Vees 1-8 Vernon 0-3
Three Stars: 1) Zach Driscoll 2) Andrew Shortridge 3) Scott Conway
Scott Conway and Tyson Jost extended their point streaks to 23 and 17 games respectively in the win. Driscoll now has two shutouts on the season and his .941 save is tops in the BCHL. Nic Jones now has nine points in his last four games and has scored at least one goal in those four. The Vees are now 16-0-0 at home and have won 20 straight regular season games at the SOEC, dating back to February of last season.
Jost and Dante Fabbro now leave the Vees for Canada West camp, for the 2015 World Junior A Challenge; the tournament runs December 13-19 in Cobourg and Whitby, Ontario.
The five-game home stand concludes tomorrow night, as the Vees (28-2-0-0) welcome the Alberni Valley Bulldogs to town; puck drop is 6pm. The Vees beat the ‘Dogs 4-1 back on September 24th, at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack. Fans can get their tickets at the Valley First box office (at the SOEC), or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com