MERRITT, BC- You can’t blame the Penticton Vees if they hope Friday’s game was their last in Merritt this season. In their final regular season trip to Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, the Vees saw a 3-0 third period lead evaporate, en route to a 5-3 to the Centennials.
It was the second time in as many games in Merritt, the Vees were done in by a third period letdown; they let a late lead get away in a 6-4 loss back on January 27th. Friday’s loss snapped the Vees 10-game win streak and was their first loss since January 27th, which happened to be also against Merritt.
Tyson Jost, Scott Conway and Nic Jones scored for the Vees, as the three scored in each of the three periods. Anthony Brodeur was handed only his second loss of the season but it came again at the hands of the Cents’; he stopped 27 of 32 shots in a losing effort.
Merritt, whose season looked to be on life support early in the third, scored five goals in just over 11-minutes to spin a 3-0 deficit into a 5-3 lead. The Cents’ power-play drove the comeback, scoring three times on three third period power-plays. Nick Jermain, Nick Fiorentino, Nick Fidanza, Mark O’Shaughnessy and Ryan Roseboom all scored in the final period for the home team, as they pull into a tie for fourth in the Interior with Vernon.
It was a scoreless first period until Jost broke the deadlock with a snipe from the right-wing. The Vees’ Captain popped the water bottle off the net, after he picked the corner over the goalie’s glove at 16:17; his 41st of the year.
That scored carried over until the late stages of the second when Conway doubled the Vees lead. It was pretty passing play between Conway, Dixon Bowen and Nic Jones, as Conway finished off the tic-tac-toe in front for his 55th at 17:06.
Jones then padded the Vees’ lead in the early stages of the third on a Penticton power-play. The puck went back to Dante Fabbro, whose well-placed wrist-shot was redirected down in front by Jones at 2:40; Jones hitting the 20-goal plateau with that tip.
Penticton looked to be sitting pretty but they soon ran into penalty trouble midway through the frame. Merritt would go on to score three power-play goals on three consecutive power-plays to come all the way back.
First, Nick Jermain blasted a one-time from the right-circle past Brodeur to get the Cents’ on the scoresheet at 6:21. Then, on their next ensuing power-play, Nick Fiorentino hammered a slap-shot from the top of the slot at 9:14 to cut the Vees’ lead to one. Nick Fidanza tied the game, not on a power-play, at 9:55 after he found the puck in front of the net after a scramble. Merritt went back to the power-play and grabbed their first lead with just over eight-minutes left.
The puck came across to Mark O’Shaughnessy and through a crowd he managed to pick the far-corner past Brodeur’s glove at 11:40 to make it 4-3.
Ryan Roseboom sealed yet another dramatic comeback win over the Vees for the Cents’ at 17:31, when he scored on a two-on-one with Colin Grannary.
Final Score: 5-3 Centennials
Shots: 33-27 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 1-4 Centennials 3-6
Three Stars: 1) Mark O’Shaughnessy 2) Ryan Roseboom 3) Nick Jermain
The Vees shutout streak ends at just over 178-minutes after Merritt’s first goal in the third. The last goal against before tonight was in the third period, in Salmon Arm, on February 19th. Merritt has stopped the Vees’ last two win streaks, as they ended a seven-game run on January 27th and now a 10-game streak tonight. Scott Conway (22) and Tyson Jost (15) extended their lengthy point streaks in the defeat.
Penticton (49-7-1-0) looks to end the regular season on a winning note tomorrow, Saturday, February 27th, in Salmon Arm against the Silverbacks; puck drop is 7pm. Fans can listen to the game on EZ Rock AM 800 or they can watch online, at www.fasthockey.com