PENTICTON, BC- The Penticton Vees four-goal second period was enough to lift them over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on home ice 5-2.
It was not the ideal start for the visiting Silverbacks. Brandon Santa Juana was called for high sticking just six seconds into the game as he caught a stick up high on Fin Williams. Despite having three good chances on the man advantage, the Vees were not able to capitalize. Liam Vanderkooi got the call between the Silverbacks’ pipes and stood tall in the opening frame, stopping all seven shots he faced. The Silverbacks then got a powerplay of their own to attempt to open the scoring, as Trevor O’Brien got the gate for hooking Mathieu Cobetto-Roy. The top unit had a couple of good looks, the best off the stick of defenceman Tucker Hartmann. The Silverbacks almost took the lead in the dying seconds of the opening period when Santa Juana sent Daniel Panetta in alone, but Vees goaltender Colin Purcell denied his deke to the backhand. The Silverbacks outshot the Vees 8-7 in the opening twenty minutes.
The middle frame was a period to forget for the Silverbacks, which saw them surrender four goals to the Vees. First, Fin Williams jammed his third of the preseason past Vanderkooi after a nice centering pass from Luc Wilson. Moments later, the Silverbacks got an extended four-minute powerplay when Spencer Smith was called for two separate tripping penalties. They could not get set up on that man advantage. After the failed attempt, you saw the momentum begin to shift more in the Vees’ favor, as Smith stepped out of the box and pounced on a loose puck in the crease that made it 2-0. The Vees almost made it 3-0 moments later when Bradley Nadeau wired a one-timer, but Vanderkooi was equal to the task lunging over to his right to stone him with the pad. The Backs had trouble getting out of their zone for a stretch, and the Vees made them pay this time; Nadeau got the best of Vanderkooi, shooting a puck from the slot, and it just squeezed through Vanderkooi’s arm to make it 3-0. The Vees weren’t done there. Five minutes later, Casey McDonald found the scoresheet, his third goal of the weekend, making it 4-0. The Vees outshot the Silverbacks 15-10 in the middle stanza.
In the third period, the Silverbacks were looking for a spark, and they got that from Danny Ciccarello. Just 1:37 into the final frame, Ciccarello carried the puck through the neutral zone, cut into the slot and roofed it over the glove of Colin Purcell, bringing the Backs’ within three. But shortly after the Vees responded, again it was Spencer Smith ripping a shot across the grain into the top corner over the blocker of Vanderkooi to restore the four-goal lead. The Silverbacks kept pushing in the third and finally was rewarded on the powerplay. Nathan Morin pounced on a loose puck in front of the net and chipped it up and under the bar to make it 5-2. The goal was Morin’s third of the preseason. But that would be as close as the Silverbacks would get as they fell 5-2 on the road in Penticton. Liam Vanderkooi stopped 32/37 in the loss, his second of the preseason.
With the loss, the Silverbacks close out the preseason with a 3-3 record. They now will shift their focus to the Merritt Centennials when they open up the season on the road and kick things off for real on October 9th.