PENTICTON - It took longer than they would have liked, but the Penticton Vees finally got the better of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Friday, picking up a 3-2 win at the SOEC, on their 4th annual Valley First Feed the Valley Night.
Coming into tonight’s game, the Silverbacks had won the previous five meetings against the Vees, including sweeping a home-and-home series last week. Friday a strong surge in the second period propelled the Vees to their first win over the Silverbacks and their second in as many games.
Penticton was forced to kill a four-minute Salmon Arm power-play not even a minute and a half into the first period. Shane McColgan was assessed the double-minor for illegal equipment. Despite the early setback, the Vees killed off the penalty and used that momentum to open the scoring late in the first.
Riley Alferd broke the scoreless tie with just over five minutes left in the opening period, just as the Vees power-play expired. Alferd, from the top of the left-circle, threw a wrist-shot towards the net, which found its way through traffic and trickled through the wickets of Angus Redmond at 14:10; Alferd’s 4th and second against Salmon Arm this season.
The Silverbacks equalized seven-minutes into the second period, when BCHL scoring leader Landon Smith batted a puck out of mid-air. Alex Jewell had shot attempt go off a Vees stick in front of the net, but the puck fluttered up in the air and right to Smith, who came across and batted it in past a surprised Hunter Miska at 7:29.
The Vees wasted little time responding, as they scored just 55 seconds later. It was a case of following the bouncing puck, as Cody DePourcq cleaned up a rebound in the Silverbacks crease at 8:24. Erik Benoit had his back-hand attempt go off the post but that rebound went right to DePourcq who buried his 18th past a sprawled Redmond.
90 seconds later the Vees added to their lead, as Travis Blanleil finished off a three-on-two rush into the Salmon Arm zone. Riley Alferd carried the puck in on the right-wing before dropping to Blanleil, who wired a wrist-shot over Redmond at 9:58; Blanleil snapping a 16-game goalless drought.
Max Becker brought the ‘Backs within one late in the second on a Salmon Arm power-play. Connor Brown-Maloski found Becker in the slot and he rifled a shot over Miska’s glove at 15:39.
But that’s as close as Salmon Arm would get, as the Vees held the ‘Backs off the scoresheet in the third, including killing-off a late Salmon Arm power-play inside the final three minutes of regulation.
Final Score: 3-2 Vees
Shots: 40-20 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 0-6 Salmon Arm 1-6
Three Stars: 1) Riley Alferd 2) Cody DePourcq 3) Max Becker
The Vees have now won back-to-back games, dating back to Wednesday and improve their record to 31-13-2-4, and remain two points up on the West Kelowna Warriors for top spot in the Interior Division. The Vees improve their home record to 17-5-0-3 and are now 18-9-1-2 against the Interior. Riley Alferd and Cody DePourcq lead all Vees in scoring, as both had a goal and two points. DePourcq now has four goals and five points against Salmon Arm this season; Alferd two goals and four points.
The Vees finish off the weekend with a stop in Surrey tomorrow night, as they face-off with the Surrey Eagles; puck drop is 7pm. This is the second and final meeting between these two non-divisional opponents this season. The Vees won the first meeting, a 7-1 decision, back on December 7th at the SOEC. Penticton doesn’t return home until Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14th, when they play host to the Vernon Vipers.