PENTICTON, BC –The Penticton Vees’ special teams didn’t look like an issue on Wednesday night. The Vees scored twice on the power-play, including the game-winning goal, in their 3-1 win over the Langley Rivermen at the SOEC.
The penalty-kill was sharp too as the Vees killed-off five Langley power-plays as they won their eighth in a row and now have won 10 of their first 11 games.
Gran Cruikshank, Taylor Ward and Jonny Tychonick scored for the Vees and Mat Robson stopped 21 of 22 shots for his eighth win of the season.
Trevor Ayre replied for the Rivermen who dropped their second in a row and third in their last four games. Bo Didur was terrific in the Langley net, stopping 37 of 40 shots in the loss but was named the game’s second star.
Penticton pressured an undermanned Rivermen squad early and often but had trouble cracking Didur. Halfway through the opening period the Vees finally capitalized and it was after some great fore-checking by Cruikshank.
The speedy forward took the puck away from the Langley defenceman at the blue-line, before breaking in alone on goal. Cruikshank, on his backhand, tucked the puck around a sprawled Didur at 10:18 for his team-leading ninth.
Despite firing 18-shots on net in the first period, the Vees took a one-goal lead into the intermission.
Penticton continued to pressure in the second but Didur stood tall, time and again, keeping the Rivermen within striking distance for just long enough, to let them get back into the game.
Ayre tied things up for the Rivermen late in the second, with just over three-minutes left. The Langley forward navigated his way into the face-off circle, before beating Robson five-hole at 16:55.
It took until the four-minute mark of third period for the Vees to get their first power-play but they made the most of the opportunity. As their man-advantage was winding down, Ty Barnstable centered to Taylor Ward at the back-post, and he got enough of his shot to get it up and over the pad of Didur five and a half minutes in. Ward’s third of the season turned out to be the eventual game-winning goal.
Shortly thereafter, Kenny Johnson and Langley’s Cooper Leitch went toe-to-toe in a spirited tussle at centre ice, after Johnson threw a hit on the Langley Captain. Both combatants exchanged several blows before the linesmen intervened.
Penticton put the game on ice with another power-play late in the frame. Jonny Tychonick fired a shot from the right-wing that found its way inside the post on the blocker-side at 16:42.
FINAL SCORE: 3-1 Vees
Shots: 40-22 Vees
Power-Plays Vees 2-3 Langley 0-5
Three Stars: 1) Grant Cruikshank 2) Bo Didur 3) Taylor Ward
The Vees (10-1-0-0) are now 3-0 at the SOEC this season and 2-0 against the Langley Rivermen. Including tonight, Penticton is now 3-7 on the power-play in their last three games. These two teams reconvene in Langley on Friday night, in the back-half of a home-and-home set.