EST KELOWNA, BC –By looking at the boxscore, you wouldn’t have known Nicholas Jones wasn’t feeling at his best. The Penticton Vees Captain scored a pair of goals and finished with three points, despite battling the flu, as the Vees downed the West Kelowna Warriors 4-1 Tuesday night.
Jones scored the Vees’ first two goals and Turner Ripplinger and Duncan Campbell added goals in the third period, as the Vees won their fourth straight and third this season against West Kelowna.
Matt Campese was the only Warriors’ player to beat Mat Robson, who was terrific, stopping 35 of 36 shots for his league-leading 17th win of the season.
The Vees special teams sparkled Tuesday, as they scored a power-play goal on their only man-advantage and killed-off all three West Kelowna power-plays.
After a scoreless first period, Jones got the Vees on the scoreboard first, just two-minutes into the middle frame. On their first and only power-play, Taylor Ward threaded the needle over to Jones, finding the Vees’ forward with a backdoor pass, which he put through the goalie’s legs at 2:06.
The Vees had a few chances to increase their lead in the second, and none better than Owen Sillinger’s opportunity. Sillinger stole the puck at the side of the net, spun back out front onto his forehand but Nik Amundrud slid across and snatched the puck out of the air.
That save loomed large, as West Kelowna found an equalizer late in the second, just before the period was out. It was a case of follow the bouncing puck, as it skipped down from the blue-line to Matthew Campese at the side of the net. The West Kelowna forward put it past Robson at 18:14 knotting things up after 40-minutes.
Penticton found their touch in the third, pulling away from the Warriors, including scoring two goals in less than two-minutes in the opening minutes. First, Jones picked up his second of the game, to put the Vees back ahead by one just under three-minutes into the frame.
Chris Klack made a great play out of the corner, regaining control of the puck before firing a pass onto the tape of Jones in the crease for the tap-in at 2:46; Jones’ second of the game, which turned out to be the game-winner.
The key moment of the period came when Turner Ripplinger gave the Vees some breathing room lest than two-minutes after Jones’ goal. Jared Nash broke down the left-wing and smartly put a hard, low shot, off the goalie’s pad on the far-side creating a rebound out front. Ripplinger, untouched, was first to the loose puck at the top of the crease for his second of the season at 4:42; his first goal in 13-games.
Moments before Ripplinger’s goal, West Kelowna almost tied the game at the other end of the rink. Robson came out of his net to play the puck but was close to turning it over after some miscommunication at the side of the net. Robson and the Vees recovered to turn around and score at the other end.
Duncan Campbell put the game on ice late in the third period with an empty-net goal at 18:24.
Final Score: 4-1 Vees
Shots: 36-35 West Kelowna
Power-Plays: Vees 1-1 West Kelowna 0-3
Three Stars: 1) Nicholas Jones 2) Matthew Campese 3) Mat Robson
The Vees improved their record to 22-4-0-0 with the win and now have a 17-point lead on second place Trail in the Interior Division. The Vees also improved their road record to 14-2-0-0 and their record against the Interior Division is now 11-1-0-0.