Saturday, September 28, 2013

Vees Get Late Offence, Defeat Centennials 4-1:

In front of over 3600 fans at South Okanagan Events Centre on Friday, the Penticton Vees came out as expected, taking a 1-0 lead and dominating in the shot department through 20 minutes. But the Merritt Centennials resiliency showed in the 2nd, when their offensive output matched Penticton's opening frame numbers, tying the game up at 1 and pulling within one on the shot clock.

The gates would open for the Vees in the final period as their offensive firepower returned and momentum shifted back in the home teams' favour. Three straight goals for Penticton helped them pick up a 4-1 win, which got the Vees back on the winning track with a 5-2-0-0 record, as Merritt fell to 3-5-0-0 on the season.

Head Coach Luke Pierce isn't sure where the answer lies in the way the Centennials have performed this season, as at times they show exceptionally and at other times seem to lack desire. Pierce hopes that the club can come out on Sunday with the consistency they will need to be present if they want a victory.

Devin Kero, despite allowing three in the third, was great between the pipes for the Centennials, stopping 25 of 29 shots. For the Vees, Hunter Miska played in his second straight game and made 20 of 21 stops.


Penticton came out with jump and with an early powerplay, got out to a 9-1 shot advantage as Merritt looked flat and energy-less. Their energy would improve in segments of the period, but for the most part the Vees controlled the majority of the play. Ben Dalpe got stuck on the right point during a late period man advantage, but less than 30 seconds after correcting himself in to his comfort zone in the slot, he got a pass from Brad McClure and fired it in the back of the net. The 1-0 goal came at 15:19 as Brett Beauvais picked up the second assist. Shots in the first favoured the Vees heavily, 12-2.

What ever Coach Pierce said to the Cents in the intermission, worked. Merritt came out with a sense of desire and intensity and they reeled off several consecutive shots and opportunistic chances, but they wouldn't get their goal until later in the period. On the chances Penticton did get, Cents netminder Devin Kero was able to cover all the angles on and keep the Vees chances to a minimal risk. A patient play at the blue line by Tyler Martin, in his return from injury, got the Cents on the board off a strong forecheck from Sebastien Pare and Gavin Gould, who both added assists. Martin's snap shot was his 2nd goal of the season. Merritt outshot Penticton 14-5 in the period and fans had to have been sitting on the edge of their seats.

Third period. Queue Penticton. It took just over 9 minutes but Ryan Gropp finished a jam play at the side of the net to get the puck by Kero and put the Vees up 2-1 as Brad McClure drew a helper as he too, was hunting for the puck in tight. 5:02 later, Cody DePourq and Travis Blanleil came in 2-on-1 and finished the play as DePourq put the Vees up by a pair. Despite falling behind by a pair, Luke Pierce kept his club focussed and disciplined, and at 18:08 the Vees added insult to injury with Cam Amantea converting from Blanleil and rookie Jarod Hilderman. Penticton held on to that 4-1 lead while outshooting Merritt 12-5 in the period for a overall margin of 29-21.

The Vees speed was impressive, and although up front they may lack some size, they make up for it with a strong core of defenders. They have a chance to win a second straight game on home ice tonight while potentially helping Merritt out by tiring the next opponent for the Cents. These two clubs will meet again October 16th at SOEC.

The Centennials have a quick turnaround, as they take the day off Saturday before returning to the rink Sunday afternoon as they host the Cowichan Valley Capitals. The Caps will be coming in with some heavy legs as they played a delayed game in Trail Friday, in Penticton Saturday, and then in the Nicola Valley on Sunday. Gametime is 2:00 at the Memorial Arena, with the Q101 pregame show getting underway at 1:30, presented by Norgaard Ready Mix. The Centennials next evening game will be next Friday as the Victoria Grizzlies make their one and only visit of the season.

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