The Penticton Vees got better and better as the game wore on and scored timely goals en route to a 3-1 exhibition victory over the Merritt Centennials on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Scoring came early and often in the game as the Centennials were first to jump on the scoreboard and take a 1-0 lead just 45 seconds into the game. Olson Werenka got the puck at the left face-off circle and shot through the legs of Vees netminder Derek Krall and pushed the visitors ahead by a one-goal advantage.
Penticton took just 42 seconds to respond and get the game on even terms as David Silye picked the top corner to tie the game. Silye got the puck in the slot and ripped a shot over the blocker side of Centennials goaltender Aidan Hosein to get the score evened early on.
The teams played a majority of the period while on special teams with Merritt going 0-for-3 on the power play and Penticton going 0-for-1 as the game remained tied at 1-1 after the opening 20 minutes.
The Vees started to lay on the pressure in the 2nd period, outshooting the Centennials by a 16-8 margin in the middle frame but the goaltending of Hosein shut the door and kept the game tied. He stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced in his time in the crease before being relieved halfway through the game by Jakob Gullmes, who was just as solid.
Penticton broke through and got their first lead of the game coming at the 15:50 mark of the 2nd period with a blast from the point. The puck moved from right to left as Steve Holtz cranked a slap shot over the glove side shoulder of Gullmes to give the Vees a late 2nd period advantage at 2-1.
The Vees continued to put their foot on the gas pedal in the 3rd period and iced the game with a power play marker. Holtz got the puck at the midpoint and fed a pass for a Jay O’Brien as he crept down the right wing and toe dragged past a defenseman before snapping a shot through the blocker side of Gullmes to increase the Vees advantage to 3-1.
Derek Krall played all 60 minutes for the Vees, stopping 19 of the 20 shots he faced in the victory while Aidan Hosein turned aside 14 of the 15 shots thrown his direction before Jakob Gullmes stopped 21 of the 23 shots sent his way in the losing effort.
The Vees hit the road for the conclusion of their weekend home-and-home set against the Merritt Centennials with a Saturday night matchup at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with the game being available on HockeyTV.com.