The Penticton Vees fought hard and controlled large portions of the game but fell short in a 5-3 loss to the Prince George Spruce Kings on Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The Spruce Kings got ahead in the opening period and took a 1-0 lead at the 4:11 mark of the 1st period. A Nick Bochen shot from the right point deflected off the stick of Carter Cochrane and off a skate of a Vees defender in front of the net that got past the glove side of Carl Stankowski that vaulted the Spruce Kings ahead by a goal early in the 1st frame.
Penticton added plenty of pressure over the course of the period following the goal, including a breakaway opportunity for Lukas Sillinger after a great stretch pass off the stick of Evan McIntyre. Sillinger guided to his left side on his forehand and put a shot on that was stopped by the blocker side of Spruce Kings netminder Jett Alexander to keep the game at 1-0.
Sillinger had his second chance of the period moments later on a terrific pass from below the goal line as David Silye centered a puck from behind the Prince George net on the blocker side of Alexander for Sillinger but the Spruce Kings netminder stuck out his right pad and made the save to keep the Prince George lead intact.
The Vees continued to pour on the pressure in the 2nd period and were rewarded with their first goal of the hockey game and evening the score at 1-1. Evan McIntyre made a move to his backhand from the slot and passed off to the left face-off circle as Danny Weight finished off the play, beating Alexander to the blocker side for his 14th goal of the season at the 7:28 mark of the middle stanza to even the score.
Penticton spent much of the 2nd period inside of the Prince George zone, throwing a total of 15 shots on goal in the middle stanza as Alexander remained to stand tall in the Spruce Kings crease as his team was able to give him a lead for the second time in the game, against the flow of play.
Ryan McAllister had his right face-off circle stopped off the rush by Stankowski with the rebound bouncing to the left face-off circle as Wil Kushniryk put a shot up and over a diving Stankowski to push the lead back in Prince George’s favour at 2-1 at the 14:37 mark of the 2nd period.
The Spruce Kings opened the third period by taking their first two-goal lead of the game with McAllister potting a centering pass from below the goal line. Kushniryk pushed the puck into the slot from the glove side of the Vees net as he spotted McAllister in the slot, who beat Stankowski on the left side coming 1:32 into the 3rd period to get ahead by a 3-1 score.
The Vees responded right away as just 26 seconds later, Tyler Ho got the game back to within a goal. Colton Kalezic spun a backhand pass from the left face-off circle with Ho deflecting the puck past the glove side of Alexander for his 5th goal of the season and a 3-2 game at the 1:58 mark.
Pressure mounted for the home side and they leveled the score with the captain David Silye coming through to tie the game at the 3:02 mark of the final period. Lukas Sillinger fed a pass from the right side as he spotted Silye in the slot, who beat Alexander on the glove side for his 10th tally of the year that forced a 3-3 tie.
Both sides started to settle in as the game got tight as both teams tried to play mistake-free hockey. The Spruce Kings were next to hit the scoresheet with the eventual game winning marker on a bouncing puck in the crease. The puck was put to the front of the net with Stankowski making an initial save before Nolan Welsh batted in the loose rebound on the glove side to give the visitors a 4-3 lead at the 14:19 mark.
Penticton pulled the goaltender but could not find the equalizer as Welsh tallied his second goal of the game into the empty net as the Spruce Kings skated away with a 5-3 victory.
Carl Stankowski stopped 16 of the 20 shots thrown his direction in his 2nd loss of the season while Jett Alexander stood tall in the Prince George crease, making 31 saves on 34 shots in his 11th win of the season.
FINAL SCORE: 5-3 Spruce Kings
SHOTS ON GOAL: 34-21 Vees
VEES PP: 0/3
VEES PK: 1/1
1) Jett Alexander (31 saves on 34 shots)
2) Wil Kushniryk (1-1-2)
3) Tyler Ho (1-0-1)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Colton Kalezic (0-1-1)