Vees clinch Interior Division with win over Trail
A 5-4 Penticton Vees win in Trail combined with a Merritt Centennials loss Saturday clinched the Interior Division for the defending RBC Cup champions.
Brad McClure pocketed the winner late in the third period after the Vees had blown a 4-1 lead. McClure's 27th of the season was scored after taking a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone by Sam Mellor and skated down the right-wing beating Adam Todd with a wrist-shot over the blocker.
Down 4-2 to start the third period, Smoke Eaters captain Garrett McMullen squeezed the puck through the arm of Chad Katunar on a redirect at 7:08. McMullen drove down the middle and redirected a Scott Davidson pass from the right wing. Shortly after, Brent Baltus fired a shot from the left circle past Bryan Sinz and into a vacated net after a scramble in the Vees zone. Nic Renyard replaced Katunar after the fourth goal and played the final 11 minutes making four saves for the win.
The Vees built a three-goal lead thanks Cody DePourcq and Mike Rebry. DePourcq wired a wrist shot off the rush from the right circle at 3:10 that fooled Todd on the far side. Rebry pushed the lead to three when he swatted a bouncing puck over the goal line in the crease.
Also scoring for the Vees were Jedd Soleway, back in the lineup after missing two games due to suspension and Louie Nanne. Valik Chichkin, the over-time hero on Friday night, opened the scoring on the power play.
With Merritt losing 6-2 to West Kelowna, the Vees will have home-ice advantage through to the Division Final. Their record within their own Division improves to 21-9-0-3; 11-3-0-2 on the road. Their overall record moves to 35-14-0-5, and they now sit tied for first in the BCHL with the Victoria Grizzlies in the league pennant race.