Merritt, BC: The Penticton Vees (1-0-0-0) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening minutes of Friday’s season opener, but Jonny Tychonick’s power-play goal mid way through the second was the game winner as the Vees began the 2017-18 season with a 4-2 win over the Merritt Centennials (0-1-0-0).
Less than a minute and a half into the game, Cassidy Bowes intercepted the puck in the neutral zone and skated in on a two-on-one with Owen Sillinger. Bowes slid the puck from the left wing to Sillinger in the slot who one timed the puck past Jacob Berger to open the scoring.
Off the ensuing faceoff, the puck ended up in the Centennials zone again and Ben Allen threw it on goal from the left-wing corner. It squeaked through the pads of Berger and Lukas Sillinger was parked in the crease to slide home his first career BCHL goal just seconds later.
Merritt called their timeout after the goal, and despite multiple power play chances for Penticton, the score remained 2-0 after the opening 20 minutes.
The second period was tilted in the home team’s favour. A bad line change cost the Vees a goal when Joey Berkopec fired a lead pass for Zach Court behind the defence, and he was able to beat Nolan Hildebrand glove side to cut the lead to 2-1 early in the frame.
The goal seemed to give the Cents life, and they evened the game at two after Zach Zorn was able to slide the puck through Hildebrand’s pads eight minutes into the period.
After going 0-for-4 on the man advantage through the first 30 minutes of the game, Tychonick was able to restore his team’s lead.
Gathering the puck at the right point, he skated towards the middle of the ice before winding up and hammering a slap shot over the glove of Berger to make it 3-2 Vees.
Despite a five-on-three power play for over a minute, the score remained 3-2 Penticton after 40 minutes. Ryan Sandelin’s shot off the post was the closest the Vees came to finding the back of the net on the two-man advantage.
The power plays continued to flow for both teams in the third period as the animosity was turned up. While the Vees power play finished the game at 1-for-8, the penalty kill went a perfect 5-for-5.
Hildebrand stood tall in net during the third period, stopping all six shots sent his was to finish with 26 on the night. In the final minute, Taylor Ward iced the game by jamming in a rebound off a Sandelin shot to make it 4-2.
The Vees are now off for a week before they head to the Shaw Centre to play the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (0-1-0-0) September 15.