The Penticton Vees (17-7-1-2) fended off a late frenzy by the Coquitlam Express (15-11-1-0) to win their fourth straight game, 4-3 Friday night.
James Miller opened the scoring just 2:50 into the game as he hammered a slap shot from the left point past a screened Kolby Matthews on the power play. Massimo Rizzo and Eric Linell recorded the assists.
The Vees extended their lead just over two minutes later as Andre Ghantous slid the puck into the slot off the rush and Drew Elser snapped the puck through Matthews’ five hole to make it 2-0. The goal ended the night for Matthews as he allowed two goals on four shots.
The Express cut into the Vees lead a minute later as Connor Gregga walked down the slot before firing the puck off the post and in past the blocker of Jack LaFontaine.
Coquitlam tied the game early in the second period. After LaFontaine made a right pad save off an odd man rush, the puck was sitting at the top of crease. It was too far for LaFontaine for grab, and Hunter Alden was able to jump on it to tie the game.
Penticton reigned the lead before the period was up as Cole Shepard got a breakaway and beat Clay Stevenson on the blocker side for his fourth of the season.
In the third, just after a power play expired, Miller leaned into another slap shot and scored his second of the game to give the Vees a 4-2 lead 7:18 into the period.
Coquitlam chipped away at the Vees lead again as Pito Walton beat LaFontaine through a screen on the man advantage to make it 4-3 with 4:43 remaining in regulation.
There was a tense moment for the Vees with 2:08 to play as LaFontaine was ran into by Jack Lagerstrom and Alex DiPaolo, and laid on the ice for a few minutes. After returning to his feet, LaFontaine stayed in the game.
The Express turned on the pressure, throwing pucks on goal from all angles and even hitting the post with eight seconds remaining, but the Vees held on for the 4-3 win setting a season high with their fourth win in a row.
The Vees now get set to play the Surrey Eagles (7-22-0-1) Saturday night to finish off the two-game road trip.