PENTICTON, BC –The Penticton Vees took advantage of a banged-up Coquitlam Express line-up Wednesday night, cruising to a 5-2 win at the SOEC in front of just over three thousand fans.


It was a milestone win for Head Coach Fred Harbinson, as he won his 400th career BCHL game behind the Vees’ bench.


Grant Cruikshank scored a pair and Joe Leahy and Ty Amonte each had two-point nights, as the Vees won their third straight and seventh in their last eight games. Captain Nicholas Jones also scored in a three-goal second period surge by the Vees.


Nolan Hildebrand won in his first home start for the Vees, kicking out 17 of 19 Coquitlam shots.


Blake Hayward and Luca Leone scored for the Express, who dropped their fourth straight game.


Penticton pushed the pace early, as the short-staffed Express were chasing the play for the most of the first period. The Vees’ persistent pressure paid-off late, as Cruikshank scored on a breakaway at 14:02. Cruikshank took a great pass from Joe Leahy, spun back to his forehand at the blue-line and the scored five-hole on Lawson Fenton; Cruikshank’s team-leading 15th.


Despite outshooting Coquitlam 14-3 in the first period, the Vees carried just a one-goal lead into the second. However, they broke through midway through the middle frame, scoring three goals in just over 90-seconds.


First, Leahy doubled the Vees lead when he followed a rebound to the net at 7:45. A point-shot went off the pad and right to Leahy for the tap-in at the top of the crease. Then, 27-seconds later, Cruikshank scored his second of the game after a great cross-ice pass from James Miller. They weren’t done there, as Jones made it 4-0 70-seconds after that, scoring on another rebound off the goalie’s pad; his first in five games.


Penticton tacked-on another one to make it 5-0 early in the third period, when Ty Amonte finished-off a nice setup from Risling. Amonte took a cross-crease pass from Risling and quickly went upstairs on his backhand at 2:25.


The Express spoiled Hildebrand’s shutout bid on their only power-play a few minutes later. Blake Hayward had a rebound off of Hildebrand’s pad bounce right to him at 6:35. Then Express Captain Luca Leone cashed-in on another rebound in the final minutes of the game to close the gap to three at 18:49.


Final Score: 5-2 Vees

Shots: 37-19 Vees

Power-Plays: Vees 0-4 Express 1-1

Three Stars: 1) Grant Cruikshank 2) Ty Amonte 3) Joe Leahy

Attendance: 3,003


The Vees (18-3-0-0) wrap-up their three game home stand Friday, when they host the Vernon Vipers (9-10-0-2) at the SOEC; game time is 7 PM.