NANAIMO, BC- The Penticton Vees were understaffed but they certainly didn’t underperform on Friday night, as they gutted out a 2-1 road win against the Nanaimo Clippers at Frank Crane Arena.
Owen Sillinger and Taylor Ward scored first period goals and Mat Robson turned aside 32 shots, including 15 in the third period, as the Vees held off the Clippers for their second consecutive win.
Matt Cramer was the Only Clipper to solve Robson, as he scored on the power-play midway through the third period, spoiling Robson’s bid for his fourth shutout. It was the Clippers third straight loss, after losing last weekend to Vernon and Surrey.
The Vees got out to a quick start, as Ward put the visitors up early just four-minutes in. James Miller snuck down to the left-wing circle, got the puck from Taylor Sanheim, and then quickly spotted Ward for the backdoor tap-in on the opposite side of the net; Ward banging in his ninth at 3:58.
Penticton clung to that one-goal lead late into the period, until Sillinger capitalized on a turnover deep in the Nanaimo end. Sillinger forced Taylor Karl to cough the puck up on the wall, and then he dragged the puck back onto his backhand, cutting to the net, and finished off the play by scoring from one knee, with just over two-minutes left in the opening frame; Sillinger bagging his 16th.
The Vees scoring twice on 10 shots in the first on Evan DeBrouwer, after he made 46-saves against the Vees back in October in a shutout win.
It was a back-and-forth second period as both teams traded chances but the goalies stole the spotlight. Mat Robson was at his best when he made two quick saves with his pad from in-close. First, after a turnover in the slot, he kicked-out his pad to stop Ben Taylor, and then he got his leg out again on Josh Blanchard at the side of the net.
Nicholas Jones had probably the Vees’ best chance in the second, as the Captain danced in on his backhand, but his rising shot was fought-off by DeBrouwer’s shoulder. Taylor Sanheim also had a great look on a power-play but his one-timer was snatched out of the air by DeBrouwer, who came sliding across to his left.
Nanaimo, down two, ratcheted up the pressure in the third period but that’s when Robson was at his best for the Vees. Robson stopped 15 of 16 shots, as Nanaimo nearly had as many shots in the third, as they did in the first two periods combined (17). That Clippers’ pressure did finally pay off though, as the power-play got them on the scoresheet.
On their fourth man-advantage of the night, the Clippers somehow managed to fire a puck into the net after a furious goal mouth scramble. With several Vees piled up in the crease, including Robson on his stomach facing the wrong way, Matt Cramer got hold of the loose puck and fired it inside the post from the bottom of the circle at 7:32; Nanaimo shaving the Vees’ lead down to one with plenty of time left.
Nanaimo continued to press after that goal and had a golden opportunity to tie it up late. With just over a minute and half left in the game, the Vees were called for a high stick, handing the Clippers a six-on-four advantage with their goalie pulled.
The Clippers threw everything they had at the Vees in the final 90-seconds but they withstood the pressure, thanks to excellent goaltending from Robson and timely shot blocking. The final moments of the game was highlighted by Robson making a absurd diving stop on Ben Solin from the slot with just seconds left.
Final Score: 2-1 Vees
Shots: 33-22 Nanaimo
Power-Plays: Vees 0-3 Nanaimo 1-5
Three Stars (Radio): 1) Mat Robson 2) Ben Solin 3) Turner Ripplinger.