The Penticton Vees (10-6-2) were down by two goals heading into the final 10 minutes of the game, but goals from James Miller and Eric Linell sent the game to a shootout where the Vees completed the comeback against the Merritt Centennials (12-8-1) Friday night.
Mathieu Gosselin opened the scoring for Merritt with a wraparound following a defensive zone turnover from the Vees. The shots after the opening 20 minutes were 12-8 in favour of the Centennials as the Vees came out flat to begin the game.
The second period was much different as Penticton came out with jump and had numerous scoring chances in the opening minutes. It paid off six minutes into the period.
Luke Loheit skated through centre before cutting down the right wing and wiring a wrist shot past the blocker of Vincent Duplessis to tie the game.
The lead didn’t last long as Rylan Van Unen walked out from below the Vees goal line and out waited Jack Lafontaine before firing it past his blocker just 2;05 after Loheit’s goal.
The score remained 2-1 heading into the third before Merritt extended their lead on a power play. After LaFontaine made a save against the post, the goaltender fell backwards allowing Matthew Kopperud to find the rebound and give the Centennials a 3-1 lead.
The Vees were awarded a power play after a heavy shift in the offensive zone and took advantage. James Miller let a one timer go that beat Duplessis on the blocker side for his eighth of the season, fifth against Merritt, cutting the lead to 3-2 with 8:24 to play.
The Vees continued to pressure and Eric Linell evened the game when Jack Lagerstrom’s shot was stopped, but the rebound came right to Linell in front of the net for his 11th of the season.
In overtime both teams had plenty of chances, and each goaltender made massive saves in the final minute, sending the game to a shootout.
After Massimo Rizzo was stopped, Kopperud was denied by LaFontaine on the backhand. Cassidy Bowes shot next, faking the shot before sliding the puck under Duplessis on the backhand to give the Vees the lead.
Gosselin then hit the post setting the stage for Conner Hutchison to end the game. He did just that, beating Duplessis on the blocker side with a wrist shot.
The win snapped a short two-game slide on home ice for Penticton who know make the long trek north to Prince George to play the Spruce Kings, who are coming off a 2-1 win over Alberni Friday night.