TRAIL - Three seconds was all that was between the Penticton Vees and their sixth straight win but three seconds was all the difference. The Trail Smoke Eaters tied the game in the dying moments of regulation and then won in double overtime, handing the Vees a 3-2 setback at Cominco Arena.
Trail (16-28-0-3) captain Jake Lucchini scored the game-tying and game-winning goals for the Smoke Eaters. Cooper Leitch scored the only other goal for the Smokies, who picked their first win against Penticton since March 10th, 2013; a run of 12 straight losses.
The Vees (37-7-2-2) were denied their sixth straight win but widened the gap to 15 atop of the Interior Division with the single point.
Tyson Jost hit the 20-goal plateau with his first period tally and Patrick Newell scored his first in six-games early in the third period for the Vees. Hunter Miska made 35 saves in the loss but was named the game’s third star.
Jost scored three and a half minutes into the first and right from inside the blue paint. Miles Gendron’s point-shot caught Jost in the midsection but he managed to wrestle it down to his stick and tap it into the net at 3:29.
That early tally from the Vees 16-year-old rookie stood up through forty-minutes as the Vees took a 1-0 lead into the third period. Jost and Jack Ramsey did come close to doubling the Vees lead before the third but both hit posts respectively.
After thirty-seven minutes with a goal, the Vees and Smokies combined for two in less than two-minutes early in the third. First, Patrick Newell doubled the Vees lead just thirty-five seconds into the frame.
On a three-on-one rush, Dakota Conroy fed a perfect pass across to Newell on the left-wing who buried his 14th to put the Vees up 2-0.
Leitch cut into the Vees lead a minute and a half after Newell’s goal, as his shot from just inside the blue-line snuck inside the post on Miska’s glove-side at 2:04.
Trail pulled the goalie in favour of the extra-skater late in the third and found some luck in the dying moments. During a scramble in front of the Vees net, Jake Lucchini found the puck and through a maze of Vees defenders, he wired a wrist-shot past Miska at 19:56; just 3.4 seconds left on the clock.
The Vees had their share of chances into the two overtime periods, including point-blank chances by Jost and Conroy. Both Jost and Conroy were denied by call-up goaltender Patrick Zubick right in close. Zubick’s best save was on Conroy, when he stuck his arm out in desperation and knocked down his rebound attempt. The 18-year-old finished with 35-saves
Trail found the winner late in double-overtime, as Lucchini hammered the puck on a one-timer at 3:44; Dallas Calvin set up the Trail captain after a turnover at the Vees blue-line.
Final Score: 3-2 (OT) Trail
Shots: 38-37 Trail
Power-Plays: Vees 0-2 Trail 0-1
Three Stars: 1) Jake Lucchini 2) Patrick Zubick 3) Hunter Miska.
The single-point from the overtime loss moves the Vees 15 points ahead of second place Vernon; Salmon Arm shutout the Vipers 1-0 Saturday. The Vees are now 5-0-0-1 in six games against Trail and wrap-up the season series February 14th back in Trail.
The Vees are now off until next weekend, when they start a three-game weekend road trip in Chilliwack Friday. The Vees tied the Chiefs 1-1 back on December 14th. Fans can listen to Friday’s game and all three games on the weekend on EZ Rock AM 800. A pay-per-view broadcast is available on www.fasthockey.com.