The Penticton Vees stormed back to defeat the Trail Smoke Eaters 4-3 in overtime at the South Okanagan Events Centre Wednesday.
Gabe Bast sniped home the winner 23 seconds into the extra frame off a feed from Nicholas Jones. The crowd of 2,712 went crazy and the Vees spilled onto the ice.
“It was good. It was special,” said Bast of getting the winner. “I haven’t played, haven’t scored in a while. It was good to get my feet back in there. Jump in with two feet.”
Bast couldn’t recall how the play developed, but said, “I had a wide open back door and Jonesy made a great play.”
Bast said the team played hard.
Victory slipped away for the Smoke Eaters when they took a penalty in the final two minutes of regulation. The Vees struck for the equalizer with 58 seconds remaining Owen Sillinger’s 17th goal of the season. Freshly loaded with a scholarship to the Bemidji State Beavers, Sillinger beat Linden Marshall with a wrist shot high blocker. Marshall finished with 45 saves. The win improves the Vees to 35-12-2-1 in the BCHL and drops the Smoke Eaters to 24-22-5-1.
“The guys stuck together. It was a really contested battle with how well Penticton played. They created a lot of offence,” said Smoke Eaters coach-GM Cam Keith. “We were on our heels for a lot of the night, but we stuck together, stuck to the game plan. Made plays when we had to. We were fortunate I think to get a point today.”
The Smoke Eaters were without Josh Laframboise, their third top point producer, to suspension, Ross Armour, Mitch Stapley, Tyson Slater, Kyle Chernenkoff and Ryan Murphy to injuries.
The Vees were nearly denied a point after an official waved off Chris Klack’s power play tally because they ruled that Jones was in the crease. A video replay on the jumbotron showed Jones hovering on the edge of the crease then led in by a Smoke Eater as Klack’s shot beat Marshall.
“It was tough having that goal waved off,” said Bast. “We kept pushing through. We had to forget about that. Have a short memory and just keep pushing for that equalizer. We got it from Silly. Silly made a great play there.”
Bast said the Vees got huge momentum from the equalizer and added that big players make big plays.
“Sillinger really stepped up there,” said Bast.
In the second period, the Vees and Smoke Eaters traded goals and they came within 18 seconds of each other. Ty Amonte buried his 14th when he skated by Marshall and tapped a rebound in from a Grant Cruikshank shot. Amonte’s tally made it 2-2, until Korbyn Chabot quickly replied for the visitors putting them ahead again.
The Vees created good chances as they outshot the Smoke Eaters 11-6 in the frame. One of those opportunities came when Chris Klack fed Griffin Mendel for what would have been a sure goal. However, Mendel was unable to get his stick on the pass.
For the fourth straight game, the Vees hit the scoresheet first.
Defenceman James Miller scored his fourth with Marshall screened. Nicholas Jones picked up the assist.
The Smoke Eaters struck back nearly five minutes later as Kale Howarth easily deposited the puck as Robson struggled to control the puck in his crease while on his stomach. The Smoke Eaters went ahead 2-1 shortly after killing off Troy Ring’s two-minute penalty for interference. Twelve seconds after getting out of the box, the Smoke Eaters rushed into the Vees zone where Blaine Caton fed Ryan Moon, who shot the puck past Robson’s glove side. Robson made 20 saves for his 30th win.
The teams will meet again Friday, this time at Cominco Arena in Trail.
Video below courtesy of Jayson Moonie.