March 08, 2014 - 10:25 AM
MERRITT - Brad McClure knows a thing or two about scoring timely goals. The Vees Captain scored the overtime, as the Penticton Vees held off the Merritt Centennials 5-4, in game three of their Interior Division Semi-Final Friday.
They now lead the best of seven series 3-0, with game four Saturday in Merritt.
McClure scored the game-winner, nine and a half minute into overtime, after he fired a one-timer from the slot past Devin Kero, on a nice setup from Erik Benoit from behind the net.
It was a frantic finish to the third period, as the two teams scored three goals in the final 2:55. Down 3-2 with under three-minutes left, Merritt’s Payton Schaefer tied the game, when he hammered a shot from between the circles, over Olivier Mantha’s shoulder at 17:05.
The game didn’t remain tied for very long however, as Paul Stoykewych scored his second of the game twenty-three seconds later, restoring the Vees lead. McClure cut into the Cents’ zone on the right-wing and from the boards, threw the puck to Stoykewych, who was charging the net. Stoykewych managed to tip the puck through Devin Kero’s legs at 17:28; his third goal in three games.
That goal looked to stand up as the game-winner but the Cents’ just wouldn’t go away. With the net empty in favour of the extra-attacker, Tyler Martin’s point-shot from the left-wing sailed through a crowd in front, and just over Mantha’s shoulder and across the goal-line at 19:19 forcing the extra frame.
The Vees opened the scoring late in the first period when Riley Alferd redirected a nice pass from Jack Ramsey. On a delayed penalty call to Merritt, Ramsey drove wide on the left-wing and from just below the goal-line, dished the puck back out front, where Alferd tipped it up and over Devin Kero at 14:50.
Merritt managed to tie the game before the period was out, as Sam Johnson cleaned up a rebound in front of the Vees net. Oliver Mantha stopped the first shot from the slot but Johnson pounced on the rebound, sliding the puck underneath the arm of the Vees fallen goaltender at 17:39.
The Vees regained the lead early in the second period, when they capitalized on a turnover deep in the Merritt zone. Cody DePourcq found the loose puck in the corner and centered for an open Nic Pierog, who hammered a one-timer off the cross-bar and past Kero at 5:48; Pierog’s second in as many games.
Merritt came right back again, as Jeff Wight brought the Cents’ back level late in the period. On a Cents’ power-play, Wight blasted the puck from the bottom of the right-circle and between the post and Mantha at 16:45; Merritt’s first power-play goal of the series.
The see-saw affair continued late into the period, as Paul Stoykewych scored his first of two on the night with less than two-minutes left in the middle stanza. Right off a face-off in the Merritt end, Stoykewych picked the corner with a laser from the blue-line at 18:14.
Final Score: 5-4 (OT) Vees
Shots: 35-34 Vees
Power-Plays: 0-5 Vees 1-4 Merritt
Three Stars: 1) Payton Schaefer 2) Scott Patterson 3) Paul Stoykewych
The Vees are now 7-1-1-1 against Merritt this season dating back to the regular season. Cody DePourcq sits third in the playoff scoring race, with three goals and seven points. Brad McClure is tied for second in playoff goal-scoring with five goals in three games; two back of the league leader. Paul Stoykewych led all Vees in scoring with a pair of goals and Jack Ramsey and Erik Benoit each finished with a pair of assists.
The Vees look for a series sweep tonight, Saturday, March 8th in game four of their Interior Division Semi-Final series with Merritt; face-off is 7:30pm. If the Vees were to win tonight, it would be the second year in a row they’ve swept their first round opponent. Fans can listen to the game live on EZ Rock AM 800, starting with the pre-game show at 7pm.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014