The Penticton Vees (15-7-1-2) had the odds stacked against them Saturday night, but a gutty effort with only three regular defenceman in the lineup resulted in an impressive 4-1 win over the high-octane Victoria Grizzlies (16-8-0-1) Saturday night.
With only James Miller, Mason Snell and Jack Lagerstrom available on the backend, the Vees brought in 16-year-old Scott Gilowski from the Okangan Rockets and 18-year-old Kaden Moravek from the Summerland Steam as reinforcements.
The first period wasn’t a great one for Penticton, a number of defensive zone turnovers led to grade A scoring chances by the Grizzlies, but Jack LaFontaine stood his ground and kept the Vees in the game.
Victoria would eventually open the scoring late in the period. Carter Berger, the BCHL’s leading scorer amongst defencemen, hooked the puck on net from the bottom of the right circle and beat LaFontaine through the five hole put the Grizzlies ahead 1-0 after one.
The Vees came out with a much stronger effort in the second period, outshooting the Grizzlies 18-9 over the middle frame. Halfway through the period Penticton tied the game thanks to some great forechecking from Andre Ghantous.
After losing the puck below the Victoria goal line, Ghantous stole the puck back and tried a wraparound. Kurtis Chapman made the save, but Ghantous jammed away at the rebound and it popped to the top of the crease. David Silye poked at it and got it through the five hole of Chapman to even the game.
Just 48 seconds later Penticton took their first lead of the game. After Massimo Rizzo’s shot was deflected wide, the Vees found the rebound behind the net and threw it to the slot. The puck came to Miller who let a shot go along the ice that was tipped by Rizzo and over the glove of Chapman to make it 2-1.
Late in the period, Jack Barnes flipped a puck out to centre from his own zone and it bounced over the stick of Berger. That allowed Brendan Harrogate to swoop and get behind the defence before lifting a backhander over the blocker of Chapman with just 21 seconds to go in the period.
Silye had a wonderful chance to seal the win for Penticton with three minutes to go as a dump in bounced off the corner glass and went to the front of the net. Chapman was out of his crease expecting the puck to go behind the net, but dove back to the front of the net and got the handle of his stick on Silye’s shot to keep the score 3-1.
With the net empty for Victoria over the final 2:20 of the game, LaFontaine and the Vees weathered the storm before Silye was able to hit the empty net with one second left.