MERRITT, BC – The Penticton Vees snapped a four-game winless skid Wednesday night, earning a 4-2 victory over the Merritt Centennials at Nicola Valley Memoria Arena.
Ty Amonte, Ryley Risling, Taylor Sanheim and Griffin Mendel scored in the win and 11 players picked up a point, as the Vees led 2-0 after one and 3-0 through 40-minutes. Mat Robson picked up his 28th win, stopping 31 of 33 shots.
It was the Vees first road win since November 22nd against the West Kelowna Warriors, ending a six-game losing streak away from the SOEC.
Tyler Ward and Henry Cleghorn scored third period goals for Merritt who dropped their third straight home game.
After killing-off a couple of Merritt power-plays in the first 10-minutes, the Vees scored two goals in just 10-seconds to jump out to a 2-0 lead. First, Ty Amonte took a cross-ice pass from Grant Cruikshank and fired home the backdoor pass from the left-wing circle at 14:50. Amonte snapped a lengthy goal draught, as that was his first goal since December 30th. They weren’t done there.
Seconds later it was Ryley Risling capitalizing on a turnover by the Cents’ just below their goal-line, as he caught Merritt goalie Jacob Berger out of position. Risling snuck a shot through the legs of Berger from the right-wing goal-line, after the goalie was trying to scramble back into position. The 20-year-old scoring his 14th of his season and in his first game back from suspension.
Taylor Sanheim added to the lead early in the second period, putting the visitors up 3-0 before the five-minute mark. Taylor Ward came down the right-wing and fired a shot off the post on the far-side, but the rebound came right to Sanheim who quickly fired it into the open net for his fifth at 4:38.
A big goal for the Vees, as it came moments after the Cents’ were buzzing at the other end of the ice.
Tyler Ward got the Centennials on the scoresheet early in the third period, after he found himself open at the Vees’ blue-line. Tyrell Buckley fired a pass up the middle to Ward, who broke in alone from the blue-line and roofed a shot up and over Robson’s glove at 4:21.
Penticton did a good job of not allowing Merritt to build momentum off of that goal and got one back midway through the third. After some good work behind the Merritt net, Duncan Campbell fired the puck out to Griffin Mendel in the left-circle, and his wrist-shot beat Berger over the glove on the far-side at 10:45. Mendel’s second in as many games put Penticton up 4-1.
Merritt’s top ranked power-play cut into the Vees lead late in the third period. Zach Risteau ripped a one-timer from the right-circle that was tipped in by Henry Cleghorn and past Robson with just under five-minutes left on the clock.
With the goalie pulled for the extra skater, Merritt tried to apply some late pressure but a shot off the cross-bar from Stephan Seeger was as close as they got.
Final Score: 4-2 Vees
Shots: 39-33 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 0-1 Merritt 1-4
Three Stars (Radio Broadcast): 1) Griffin Mendel 2) Ty Amonte 3) Tyler Ward
Vees Notes: Wednesday was the Vees first win since January 21st, when they scored a 4-2 win over West Kelowna at the SOEC. The Vees finish with a 6-1-0-0 record in seven games against Merritt this season. With their win, combined with Vernon’s overtime loss to West Kelowna, the Vees are now seven points clear of the Vipers for top spot in the Interior Division. Defenceman Mitch Meek did not play after sustaining a broken finger in practice Tuesday; he’ll be out for the remainder of the regular season.
The Vees (33-12-1-1) continue their road trip Friday against the Nanaimo Clippers at Frank Crane Arena; puck drop is 7 pm.