PENTICTON - You can never judge a book by its cover and the Penticton Vees found that out on Friday, Jan. 30. The Vees scored three times in the second period as they fended off a depleted but resilient Trail Smoke Eaters team 4-3 Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Mitch Newsome led all Vees with a goal and an assist and Connor Chartier, Dakota Conroy and Tyson Jost added singles for Penticton (37-7-2-1). Friday was the Vees fifth straight win and twelfth in a row against Trail dating back to March 10th, 2013.
Hometown product Kienan Scott scored twice for the Smokies and Craig Martin had the other, as Trail (15-28-0-3) lost their fourth in a row. Trail had eight players out of the line-up including both goalies, as Jr. ‘B’ call-up Patrick Zubick stopped 32 shots in his BCHL debut.
Trail, who had lost their last six at the SOEC coming into Friday’s game, opened the scoring midway through the first off a face-off. In the Vees zone, Jake Lucchini pushed the face-off ahead and from behind the net spotted an open Craig Martin in the slot for the one-timer at 10:32.
The Vees struggled out of the gate but managed to tie the game late in the first on an odd-man rush. Lewis Zerter-Gossage found Connor Chartier streaking down the right-wing and he buried his ninth into an open net before crashing into it at 15:49.
The honeymoon was short lived, as the Smokies regained the lead forty-seven seconds after the Chartier marker. Scott forced a turnover at his own blue-line and raced down the left-wing before beating starter Brendan Barry from the face-off circle at 16:36.
Hunter Miska came into the game to start the second after Barry allowed two goals on 10 first period shots.
The Vees were vastly better in the second, as the pressured the Smoke Eaters for the majority of the period and struck three times on 18 shots steered towards their net.
Tyson Jost tied the game when he got just enough of his stick a point-shot that knuckled past Zubick at 3:36 for his 19th; Jost pulling into a tie for the team goal-scoring lead with Demico Hannoun.
Mitch Newsome gave the Vees their first lead of the game roughly four-minutes later. Newsome was in the right place at the right time, potting the puck into an open net after a favourable bounce off the end-boards; Newsome scoring his sixth at 7:59.
Dakota Conroy padded the Vees lead late in the middle stanza, as he was the recipient of a great pass from Gabe Bast. Conroy took a rink-wide pass on the weak-side and smacked in his 9th at 18:37.
Trail wouldn’t go away and Penticton product Kienan Scott pulled the Smokies within one inside the final four-minutes of the third. Scott reached out and tipped a pass through the stretched legs of Hunter Miska at 16:56 for his second of the game.
Trail did pressure with the goalie pulled in favour of the extra-skater but couldn’t manufacture a tying goal late in regulation.
Final Score: 4-3 Vees
Shots: 36-28 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 0-3 Smoke Eaters 0-3
Three Stars: 1) Mitch Newsome 2) Tyson Jost 3) Kienan Scott
The Vees now have a 14-point lead on second place Vernon after the Vipers were shutout 3-0 at home to Salmon Arm on Friday. Penticton improved to a perfect 5-0-0-0 against Trail this year in the come from behind win.
The two teams meet again, tomorrow night, Jan. 31, in Trail at Cominco Arena; face-off is 7:30 p.m. It’s the Vees third of four visits to the West Kootenays but they’re 2-0-0 in Trail this season. Saturday signals the start of four straight games on the road, as Penticton begins a three-game Mainland-Island Division road trip next Friday.