MERRITT, BC –Mitch Meek knows a thing or two about timing. The 20-year-old scored his first goal as a Vee, two-minutes into overtime, as the Penticton Vees came back to beat the Merritt Centennials 4-3 on Saturday night, at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
The drama wasn’t saved for just overtime, as the Vees came back from 3-1 down with just over nine-minutes left in the third period. Jared Nash and Ty Amonte scored two-minutes and forty-five seconds apart to set up Meek’s OT heroics.
Joe Leahy scored the other Vees’ goal in the second period when they trailed 2-0 and Nolan Hildebrand picked up his second career win, kicking-out 25 shots.
Despite a strong push in the first period, the Vees found themselves down a goal going into the break. The Centennials Michael Faulkner scored his second in as many nights against the Vees, on a knuckler from the blue-line. On a delayed penalty against Penticton, Faulkner’s wobbly point-shot found its way through traffic and past Hildebrand at 13:20.
Merritt doubled their lead midway through the second, after Henry Cleghorn snapped a shot a shot over Hildebrand’s glove from the slot at 13:55.
Penticton got back into it, when Joe Leahy took matters into his own hands. Leahy led a three-on-two rush into the Merritt zone, before firing a wrist-shot past Cole Lancaster’s glove at 15:31; his first career BCHL goal. Just like in the first, the Vees trailed by a goal after the second.
The Cents’ went back up by a pair in the back-half of the third period. Right off a face-off in the Vees’ end, Zach Zorn slid his way to the front of the net and slipped a shot through Hildebrand’s legs at 9:31; the Vees down two again and this time late.
But cue the comeback.
Penticton didn’t waste any time responding, as Nash replied 15-seconds after the Merritt goal. Kenny Johnson’s point-shot was knocked down by the goalie but the puck squirted to the side, and Nash was there to shovel it in from his knees; Nash also scoring his first career goal.
The Vees kept pressing and found an equalizer from the tightest of angles. In the right-wing corner, Amonte was first to the puck after the face-off and managed to bank it off the inside of the goalie’s skate and in at 13:29; his fifth goal of the year.
Those two quick goals setting the stage for Meek in extra time.
On the game-winner in overtime, Chris Klack grabbed the puck in the corner and fired a pass back to Meek at the top of the slot. The veteran rear-guard fired a one-timer that the goalie got a piece of but the rebound fluttered up and over Lancaster before trickling in at 1:58.
FINAL SCORE: 4-3 Vees (OT)
Shots: 39-28 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 0-3 Merritt 0-3
Three Stars: 1) Mitch Meek 2) Colten Lancaster 3) Joe Leahy
Going back to last season and including playoffs, the Vees have won 11 of their last 12 overtime games; their 3-0 this season. With the win, the Vees’ improve their road record to 6-1-0-0* (*One win at the BCHL Showcase).
Penticton returns home to face the Langley Rivermen on Wednesday, October 12th, in their first “Wicked Wednesday” of the season.