A three-goal first period led the way to a 5-2 win for the Penticton Vees over the West Kelowna Warriors at the South Okanagan Events Centre Friday.
Vees captain Tyson Jost, named the game’s first star, gave the crowd of 2,597 something to cheer about quickly as he beat Warriors goalie Matthew Greenfield on a wraparound. The puck hit the goalie’s skate and went in after 33 seconds of action.
Vees forward Chris Gerrie said hitting the scoresheet early gave them a lot of confidence.
“We executed and were good the first five minutes,” said Gerrie, who netted his 14th goal in the third period.
At 11:01 of the first, Jost made it 2-0 from inside the slot as he wired a wrist shot high blocker for his 36th goal. A minute-and-a-half later, Scott Conway, named the second star, stole the puck in the Warriors zone and beat Greenfield top corner on his glove side for a 3-0 lead.
“We came out strong,” said Gerrie. “It’s a big rivalry.”
Gerrie said the Warriors gave them problems early in the second period. Bryan Basilico cut into the Vees lead when Kyle Marino and Garrett Forster sprung him on a breakaway and finding the five-hole on Anthony Brodeur. Gerrie said one of the things the sizeable Warriors did well was cycling the puck, making it hard to contain.
“They use their size to their advantage,” he said. “It was a physical game.”
At 11:15 of the second, Nicholas Jones redirected a Conway shot to beat Greenfield for the Vees’ lone power play goal on five tries. The Vees were given a power play with one second remaining in the game when Reed Gunville got involved with Demico Hannoun, the third star with two assists, and punched the Vees forward in the face a few times.
Gerrie’s tally came when Conway fed him the puck and he drove hard to the net. Greenfield finished with 29 saves, while Brodeur made 18 in the win.
The Warriors, 33-17-2-1, were 7-0-1 heading into Penticton, while the Vees, who reclaimed top spot in the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings, have won six in a row and improved to 45-6-0-1.
The Vees return to action Saturday when they host the Trail Smoke Eaters. The Smoke Eaters, 20-31-2-0, will hit the ice without coach-general manager Nick Deschenes, who was relieved of his duties on Friday.
“The team has been outscored by a margin of 22-3 in the last three games but more importantly, it is obvious that the players are not responding to him,” said Smoke Eaters president Tom Gawryletz in a team statement on their website.
Deschenes coached the team for three seasons and compiled a record of 49 wins, 106 losses, 12 O/T losses and two ties in 169 games. The team finished in last place in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons and currently sit in last, one point behind the Merritt Centennials, who have two games in hand. Assistant coaches Curtis Toneff, Barry Zanier and Craig clare will take over for their remaining fives games.