PENTICTON, BC –The Penticton Vees mounted a dramatic second period rally, coming back from three goals down, to earn a hard-fought 3-3 tie with the Vernon Vipers, Wednesday night at the SOEC.
Down 3-0 early in the second period, Taylor Sanheim, Duncan Campbell and Grant Cruikshank scored over a seven-minute span, to battle all the way back. Chris Klack added a pair of assists and was named the game’s first star. Mat Robson shook off an iffy goal early and was very good down the stretch, stopping 34 of 37 shots.
Brett Stapley scored in the first and Jagger Williamson and Ryan Brushett scored just over two-minutes apart in the second to give Vernon what looked like an insurmountable three-goal lead. Dario Hansen was the busier of the two goalies in the final 30-minutes and turned in a 40-save performance and grabbed third star honours.
Despite a solid 20-minute effort in the opening frame, the Vees saw themselves down a goal, after Stapley scored on the Vipers second shot of the game, five-minutes in. Stapley threaded the puck between the legs of Cruikshank, before firing a shot past the glove of Robson at 5:20.
One of the Vees’ best chances in the first came off an odd-man rush, but Ty Amonte was stopped and call-up Connor Bouchard couldn’t corral the rebound in the blue paint.
Vernon had a step on the Vees early in the second and scored twice before the five-minute mark to pad their lead. First, Williamson potted a rebound in the crease at 2:34, then Brushett jockeyed himself into positon to score on another rebound, and from nearly the exact same spot at 4:45 to make it 3-0.
Taylor Sanheim breathed some life into the comeback attempt, when he scored from the slot midway through the frame. Chris Klack won the face-off then Sanheim wheeled into the middle and rifled a shot over Hanson’s glove at 9:24; his fourth in eight games.
Duncan Campbell fanned the flames when he scored arguably the prettiest goal at the SOEC this season. Campbell finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play between him, Klack and Nicholas Jones at 14:07; Campbell tapped-in his seventh to cut the deficit to one.
Cruikshank capped off the comeback two-minutes later on a partial breakaway from the blue-line. Kenny Johnson made a great stretch pass to spring Cruikshank at the Vipers line. Cruikshank held off the defender and fired a wrist-shot over Hanson’s blocker at 16:13; his team-leading 27th.
Jamie Armstrong had a great chance to grab the Vees their first lead in the third period but his rebound attempt clipped the outside of the net. Joe Leahy had his point-shot knocked down but the puck hopped over to Armstrong, but he couldn’t jam the puck in pas the fallen goaltender.
Both teams had chances in overtime, but both goalies were dialed, as Hanson and Robson combined to stop 14 shots. Robson’s two best saves came during the four-on-four OT, when he kicked-out shots from Steven Jandric and Stapley in quick succession.
Final Score: 3-3
Shots: 43-37 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 0-2 Vipers 0-2
Three Stars: 1) Chris Klack 2) Nicholas Jones 3) Darion Hansen
Vees Notes: The Vees had only four regular defencemen dressed for Wednesday’s game. Gabe Bast (injured), James Miller (injured), Greg Brydon (OHA) and Griffin Mendel (Prospects Game) did not play. Ryley Risling sat out as well, serving the second game of his four-game suspension. Wednesday’s tie was the Vees’ first since December 14th, 2014, when they tied the Chilliwack Chiefs 1-1 at the SOEC.
The Vees (32-10-1-1) and Vipers (23-15-4-4) square-off again Friday at Kal-Tire Place in Vernon; face-off is 7 pm.