WARD’S OT WINNER LIFTS VEES OVER SPRUCE KINGS

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enticton, BC: It took the Penticton Vees (23-9-2-2) just seven seconds of three-on-three to end a five-game losing streak as Taylor Ward finished off a two-on-one rush to give the Vees a 2-1 win over the Prince George Spruce Kings (20-12-3-4) Friday night.

A scoreless first period saw the Vees outshooting the Spruce Kings by a 12-5 margin, and the best chance being a wrist shot from Nicky Leivermann that hit the post behind a screened Evan DeBrouwer.

While the Vees were the stronger team in the opening 20 minutes, Prince George showed some pushback in the middle frame and outshot Penticton 12-7. Their best sequence was in the dying minutes as they held the Vees in their own zone, forcing Penticton to take their time out after an icing call and just 25 seconds remaining in the frame.

With the power-play chances piling up, the Vees finally took advantage. Marcus Mitchell was able to shovel in a loose puck in the crease for his ninth of the year, and first with the Vees, with 8:17 left in the third period.

The Spruce Kings didn’t back down however, and a former Vee came back to bite his old team. A long wrist shot from the blue line was stopped by Adam Scheel, but the rebound popped loose and Ben Brar was able to put it into the net to tie the game was 5:29 left in the game.

While both teams had some looks in the first overtime, the Vees ended the game right off the drop of the puck in three-on-three.

Dakota Boutin won the face-off and Massimo Rizzo gathered the puck behind him. Swinging out to the left wing, Rizzo skated into the Prince George zone and was joined on the right wing by Ward. Rizzo saucer the puck to Ward who made no mistake, firing it into the top corner over an outstretched DeBrouwer to give the Vees the win.

The win was big for the Vees not only to end the losing streak, but also to keep pace in the Interior Division. The Wenatchee Wild, the Vees opponent Saturday, dropped a 3-0 game to Salmon Arm allowing the Vees to gain two points on them in the standings. The Vees 50 points has them third behind Wenatchee (53) and Vernon (59).

The Vees host the Wild at the South Okanagan Events Centre Saturday at 6:00 looking for their first win against their division rivals this season. Penticton is 0-3-1 against Wenatchee this year.

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