WEST KELOWNA, BC –The Penticton Vees ended their season-opening seven game road trip the way they started it, with a win. Grant Cruikshank scored twice and Nicholas Jones added another, as the Vees skated to a 3-1 win over the West Kelowna Warriors Friday, at Royal LePage Place.
Mat Robson kicked out 24 of 25 shots to earn his fifth win in six starts, helping the Vees to their fourth win in a row.
Penticton chased Warriors starter Xavier Burghardt from the net, after he was blitzed for two goals on five shots in under five-minutes of action.
The much talked about special teams were a focal point but it was all good news. The Vees, coming in with the 16th ranked power-play, scored on their first man-advantage and killed-off all four Warriors’ power-plays.
Cruikshank opened the scoring on their opening power-play just before the three-minute mark. After some quick puck work around perimeter, Cruikshank walked into the right-circle and wired a wrist-shot upstairs on the short-side at 2:53; his second in as many games.
The Captain then doubled the visitors lead less than two-minutes later. Off the rush, Ryley Risling dished the puck over to Jones, and from nearly the exact same spot as Cruikshank, he fired a dart over Burghardt’s glove at 4:52 for his third of the season.
Burghardt was yanked in favour of Penticton native Shane Farkas played out the remaining 54-minutes.
The Vees got to work quickly in the second period too, as it was Cruikshank, again, making it 3-0. Thought Cruikshank scored, the setup to the goal was the focal point. Jonny Tychonick made a great bank pass from inside his own zone out to centre ice. The perfectly weighted pass found a hard-charging Cruikshank on the right-wing. The speedy forward sped in behind the West Kelowna defenders, before sliding a slick forehand deke through Farkas’ legs at 2:26; the future Wisconsin Badger scoring his sixth goal.
West Kelowna made some noise early in the third period. After a the puck took a few unexpected bounces near the Vees’ net. Reed Gunville was in the right spot, as he shoveled the bouncing puck across the line from inside the crease; West-K getting on the scoreboard just 54-seconds in.
Though they scored seconds into the third, the Vees kept the Warriors at bay for the other 19-minutes of the frame. That goal spoiled Robson’s shutout bid and was the only blemish on an otherwise solid outing between the pipes.
West Kelowna had a goal waved off late in the game, whilst on the power-play, as the referee deemed there to be incidental contact on the play.
FINAL SCORE: 3-1 Vees
Shots: 35-25 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 1-4 Warriors 0-4
Three Stars: 1) Grant Cruikshank 2) Nicholas Jones 3) Braiden Epp
Newly acquired James Miller picked up an assist in his Vees’ debut, helping setup the power-play goal in the first period. Friday was the Vees’ first divisional game and three of their next four are against Interior teams.
Now, it’s the big one. Saturday it’s the Vees London Drugs Home Opener at the SOEC, when they host the Trail Smoke Eaters (2-5-0-0). The 2016-17 Vees will be introduced, as will the Ring of Honour, along with a special banner ceremony. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 6 pm sharp for the pre-game ceremony.