The Penticton Vees used a big night from Ryan Upson and Tom Richter to help them back in the win column in a 7-1 defeat of the Cranbrook Bucks on Thursday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The Vees and Bucks found themselves in a familiar territory after the opening 20 minutes of action as both teams were held off the scoresheet which marks the fourth straight opening period in their season series where no one has found the back of the net.
The best chance of the opening period came off the stick of Reece Henry as Cranbrook was a post away from striking first in the game. Henry took a pass from the right wing and cut to the goal, pushing a shot at Vees goaltender Kaleb McEachern who got a piece of his blocker on it before the puck clanked off the post and stayed out to keep the score 0-0.
McEachern, making his second start of the season, was tested early in the game but turned aside each of the 6 shots thrown his way in the opening 20 minutes of play while Bucks goaltender Jay Thomson saw his workload increase as the period moved along, stopping each of the 10 shots fired at his net.
The shortage of scoring chances and scoring in general came to an end in the 2nd period as the Vees scored a total five goals in the span of 4:23 in the middle stanza to bust the game wide open but it was the Bucks who would get on the scoreboard first and a shorthanded goal coming from Noah Leibl.
A Vees turnover in the neutral zone on a power play breakout saw Leibl intercept the feed and started toward the goal on a breakaway. Leibl kept on his forehand and snapped a shot past the glove side of McEachern at the 2:20 mark of the middle frame to push the home side Bucks ahead by a 1-0 margin.
The onslaught of Vees markers began at the 4:25 mark of the middle stanza with Ryan Upson collected the first of two 2nd period goals to even the score. Ben Wozney had his left point shot redirected by Upson past the blocker side of Thomson with his 2nd goal of the season to tie the score at 1-1.
It didn’t take long for the Vees to get themselves ahead shortly after as Wozney was able to find a goal of his own at the 5:33 mark of the 2nd period to give Penticton their first lead of the hockey game. Wozney saw the puck come back to him at the midpoint as he fired a seeing-eye shot through traffic past the blocker side of Thomson for his 2nd goal of the season and a 2-1 Vees lead.
Tom Richter was able to extend the Vees advantage to a 3-1 margin at the 6:37 mark of the middle stanza with his second goal of the season. Stefano Bottini made a strong play at the left point as he sent the puck down to the front of the net where Richter collected and went to his backhand to beat Thomson on the glove side to push the Vees lead to 3-1.
A power play goal from Luc Wilson strengthened the Vees lead to 4-1 at the 8:06 mark of the middle period as the Vees forward collected his team-leading 7th goal of the season. Jacob Quillan spotted Wilson in the slot with a pass as he snapped a shot past the blocker side of Thomson at the 8:06 mark of the 2nd period to give Penticton a three-goal advantage.
The second goal of the game from Upson pushed the Vees ahead by a 5-1 margin and capped off the stretch of five goals in a span of 4:23 on a two-on-one. Upson elected to keep the puck in the right face-off circle and sent a shot by the blocker side of Thomson for his second goal of the night and a 5-1 Vees lead heading into the 3rd period.
Just as a power play had come to an end, Bottini jammed home his second goal of the season on the glove side of Thomson at the 16:29 mark. Richter threw the puck at the goal before it bounced to the left post as Bottini stuffed it in past Thomson to give Penticton a 6-1 lead.
Upson capped off his four-point night with his first career BC Hockey League hat-trick at the 18:08 of the final frame on an interception. Upson collected the puck in the left face-off circle on a turnover and snapped a shot past the glove side of Thomson for his 4th of the season and gave Penticton a late 7-1 lead.
Kaleb McEachern, for his second straight start, turned aside 20 of the 21 shots thrown his way in his 2nd win of the season while Jay Thomson stopped 31 of the 38 shots he faced in the game in his 2nd loss of the season.
FINAL SCORE: 7-1 Vees
SHOTS ON GOAL: 38-21 Vees
VEES PP: 1/3
VEES PK: 5/5
1) Ryan Upson (3-1-4)
2) Tom Richter (1-2-3)
3) Ben Wozney (0-2-2)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Reece Henry (0-0-0)
The Vees (7-1-0-0) look to get some revenge on the Trail Smoke Eaters (3-4-0-0) after falling in the teams’ last head-to-head matchup in their fifth game of the season series on Saturday night at the SOEC. Puck drop is slated for 6:00 PM.