The Penticton Vees went into hostile territory Saturday night, shutting down not only the Trail Smoke Eaters on the ice, but also their crowd of 3,108 in a dominating 6-1 win. The two teams now meet one final time for the right to face the Wenatchee Wild in the Interior Division final.
Marcus Mitchell opened the scoring in game six, jumping on the rebound of a James Miller slap shot from the line. The goal gave Penticton a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes, while they outshot Trail 10-6.
Mitchell scored too extend the Vees lead four minutes into the second, finishing off a great rush by Jared Nash with a backhander all alone in front of the goal.
Massimo Rizzo tallied his first of two on the night with under eight minutes to go in the period, but the goal had to be reviewed. After Taylor Ward couldn’t get a shot away on a partial break, he slid the puck to Rizzo who fired it into the open cage.
The referee standing behind the net waved it off, saying it never hit the back of the net. Play continued for 20 seconds before a whistle in the Penticton zone, and the officials converged at centre ice to call it a good goal.
Mitchell completed his hat trick with four minutes to play in the second, deflecting in a wrist shot from Jordan Henderson for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
It was the first career hat trick for Mitchell, who scored just four goals in 24 games during the regular season after being acquired from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Early in the third the Smoke Eaters got their only goal of the game as Andre Ghantous skated around Michael Campoli before sliding the puck to Tyler Ghirardosi who had the tap in on Adam Scheel’s blocker side.
Penticton didn’t wait long to restore their four-goal cushion as Wyatt Sloboshan beat Adam Marcoux with a wrist shot from the right circle off the rush just a few minutes later.
Rizzo added his second of the game by digging the puck out of skaters in front of the net and roofing it over Marcoux’s glove to cap off the scoring.
The game was thoroughly in hand for Penticton as they limited Trail’s chances offensively, allowing just 19 shots on goal. Special teams have played a major factor in this series, but there was only one penalty in game six, a boarding call against Trail with 16 seconds remaining.
Monday’s game seven will be fourth in the last two seasons for Penticton, as they won at home against Merritt and Vernon at home, and in Chilliwack last season.
It will mark the fifth time a game seven has taken place at the South Okanagan Events Centre since it opened in September of 2008. The Vees have three wins and an overtime loss in the previous four.