PENTICTON - The Penticton Vees were better on Saturday but the still couldn’t solve Gordie Defiel and the Coquitlam Express. Bo Pieper scored the game-winner on a partial breakaway in double-overtime, as the Express stunned the Vees 2-1 at the SOEC.
With the win, the Express take both games of the weekend home-and-home series and snap a three-game losing streak on the road. Despite the loss, the Vees move into second in the Interior Division leap-frogging the Merritt Centennials in the process.
After being tossed from Friday’s contest, John Saunders made the most of his return to the line-up Saturday, as the Express rear-guard opened the scoring midway through the first. The puck was put up to Saunders, who then worked his way across the blue-line to his left before flipping a wrist-shot towards the goal. The shot had eyes for the back of the net, as it found its way through a crowd and handcuffed Hunter Miska at 11:06.
Minutes before Saunders scored, Miska made an eye-catching save off a tip by Corey Mackin. Adam Rockwood broke down the right-wing on an odd-man rush before spotting out Mackin at the back-post. Miska lunged to his right and got his pad down on the redirect attempt.
After a less than stellar opening period, the Vees turned things around in the second period and cranked up the pressure. The Vees peppered the Coquitlam net with 12 shots but couldn’t solve the riddle that was Gordie Defiel. Dating back to the second period of Friday’s contest, Defiel had kept the Vees off the scoreboard in the last four periods, stopping all 33 shots steered his way.
The Vees didn’t fold and their perseverance paid off late in the third period when they finally got a puck past Defiel. With less than five minutes left, Patrick Sexton threw a pass across to Alex Coulombe at the right-point, and the defenseman’s shot appeared to glance off of Matt Berry’s skate and past Defiel at 15:46. Anthony Conti was credited with the goal, his eighth, as he was jousting with Berry in front of the Express net.
For the fourth time in the Vees last seven home games, the game needed overtime to decide a winner. The Four-on-four period didn’t solve anything and the two teams needed a fifth period to produce a winner. However, three-on-three overtime didn’t lack controversy.
Travis Blanleil let go a one-timer from the right-circle that ramped off an Express defender’s stick and up and over Defiel. Cody DePourcq, standing at the top of the crease, got to the trickling puck and shoved it across the goal-line. The referee immediately waved-off the goal citing “unintentional goaltender interference,” on DePourcq, which the referee deemed prevented Defiel from making a save on the play.
A short while after the controversial no goal, the Express manufactured the game-winner off the rush. Two Vees skaters got stuck on the boards in the Express end, allowing Bo Pieper to dart down the ice on a partial breakaway. Pieper broke down the right-wing and wired a wrist-shot over Miska’s glove before crashing into the Vees puck-stopper; Pieper’s 13th and the game-winner at 2:21.
FINAL SCORE: 2-1 (2OT) Express
Shots: 29-21 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 0-3 Express 0-1
Three Stars: 1) Bo Pieper 2) Gordie Defiel 3) Hunter Miska
The Vees record slips to 15-6-1-3 and their overtime record drops to 2-3-1 in the loss. However, the single point they picked up in the OT loss, combined with Merritt losing in regulation in Surrey, moves the Vees one spot up to second in the Interior Division; one point back of Vernon and they have three games in hand on the Vipers.
Saturday marked the first time since September 20th & 25th the Vees have dropped back-to-back games. Their now 9-1-0-2 at home and have just one win in their last four.
The Vees look to bust the slump on Tuesday, when they pay a visit to the West Kelowna Warriors; puck drop from Royal LePage Place is 7pm. The Vees are back on home ice on Friday, November 29th when they host the Langley Rivermen, who occupy second place in the Mainland Division. The Vees and Rivermen skated to a 1-1 tie back on October 19th in Langley.