PENTICTON, BC –Turns out the Penticton Vees and Vernon Vipers didn’t need 60-minutes to decide things; 14 was more than enough. The two rivals combined for five goals in 14-minutes in the first period, as the Vee skated to a 4-2 win Tuesday night at the SOEC.


Owen Sillinger, Grant Cruikshank and Griffin Mendel all scored in the opening frame, and Taylor Ward sealed the win with an empty-netter late. Mat Robson turned aside 15 of 17 shots to remain perfect in his two pre-season starts.


Michael Ufberg and Ethan Scardina scored for Vernon who dropped their pre-season record to 0-4.


Special teams dominated the game, as the two teams combined for 13 power-plays, and the Vees opened the scoring on one of their nine opportunities. Sillinger broke the ice three and a half minutes into the game, when he squeezed a wrist-shot underneath the goalie’s arm from the right-circle.


Vernon then responded with a power-play goal. The power-play goal was the frist of two in just 69-seconds to quickly swing momentum in their favour. First Michael Ufberg blasted a point-shot through a crowd to tie it at 10:03. Then, at even-strength, Ethan Scardina was at the right place, at the right time, potting a rebound out front at 11:12.


The momentum swings were like a pendulum in the first and it swung back in the Vees’ favour late. Cruikshank tied the game a minute and a half after Vernon took their only lead. The Wisconsin native burst down the right-wing and snapped a shot blocker-side at 12:41. Then Mendel got in on the act, as the blue-liner let go a slap-shot from the point that was tipped by a Vernon stick at 14:15.


Despite five goals in 14-minutes in the first period, the two teams held each other scoreless in the second. The Vees’ best chance came when Sillinger found himself open in front but his backhand deke was thwarted, by a glove save on the goal-line by Gavin Hubbard.


One of Mat Robson’s better saves came in the third period and he didn’t even use his goalie gear. Vernon’s Jimmy Lambert let go a hard wrist-shot off the rush that the goalie fought off with his mask; Robson would be OK.


Vernon pulled their goalie with under 90-seconds left in regulation but it was Ward finding a loose puck and flipping it into an open net from the neutral zone.


Final Score: 4-2 Vees

Shots: 36-17 Vees

Power-Plays: Vees 1-9 Vernon 1-4


Penticton is right back at it tomorrow night on the road, as they head up Okanagan Lake to face the West Kelowna Warriors; face-off is 7 pm. Then the Vees are home Friday to face Trail, before wrapping up their exhibition schedule the following night in Trail.

Scott Harrigan
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