March 4th, 2020.
Two hundred and nine days ago, Carson Kosobud scored the series-clinching goal to send the Vees onto the next round of the playoffs.
What we didn’t know at the time is that goal would be the last one for the year and the world would stop due to the coronavirus.
It’s been a challenging year for all, but a glimmer of hope hit the ice when the Vees played their first game in 209 days in what is called the Okanagan Cup.
Penticton played host in a pair of games against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks this past Friday and Saturday night. Regardless of any outcome, it was a welcome sight for all hockey fans across the province to see the BCHL back in action.
Friday night saw the Vees opening their tournament with a dominating performance at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Vees scored seven times to beat the Silverbacks 7-0.
The opening few minutes saw both teams catch their collective breath. Not playing in six months can take its toll, but once the Vees managed to have their legs underneath them, they were guns a-blazing.
Tristan Amonte opened the scoring on a breakaway from the blue line, beating Silverbacks goalie Riley Kohonick on the backhand at the 6:52 mark while adding another goal five minutes later, giving the Vees a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
— Penticton Vees (@PentictonVees) September 26, 2020
The Vees didn’t let up on the gas pedal as they added a pair of goals courtesy of Quinn Hutson and Devlin O’Brien in the second period. Huston received a wicked pass behind the net from Matteo Costantini to slip it pass Kohonick.
With a 4-0 lead heading into the final 20, the Vees capitalized three more times to put a touchdown on the scoreboard. Jackson Niedermayer started the scoring in the third with a rebound goal beating the netminder low glove. Huston found the net again, giving him two for the night, while the seventh goal came from Drew Elser, who fired a blistering shot glove side.
With a 7-0 victory, Vees goalie Yaniv Perets turned away 20 shots giving him his first shutout of the tournament.
The Vees didn’t have much time to soak in the victory as they hit the ice 24 hours later against those same Silverbacks.
Saturday night feast
The Vees swept the weekend series with the Silverbacks with an 8-2 victory on Saturday night.
In the first period, Penticton posted two goals in the first five minutes of the game. Opening the scoring on the powerplay, Luc Wilson from the right side beat Kohonick five-hole to give his team a 1-0 lead, shortly after, Hutson doubled the lead.
Ryan Upson added another before Silverbacks forward Daniel Panetta scored the first goal in the tournament for Salmon Arm by beating Kaeden Freer-Lane. However, O’Brien quickly restored the three-goal lead before Simon Tassy of the Silverbacks brought it back down to two.
The Vees add a pair of goals in the 2nd period and lead 6-2 after 40 minutes of play!
— Penticton Vees (@PentictonVees) September 27, 2020
With a 4-2 lead heading into the second frame, the Vees added a pair of goals by Niedermayer and Wilson. Niedermayer scored on a one-timer that beat goalie Liam Vanderkooi, who came in for relief of Kohonick.
Wilson scored his second of the night by beating Vanderkooi low glove, which gave Penticton a 6-2 lead going into the final 20.
The final frame of the opening series of the Okanagan Cup was much the same as the second. The Vees added to their goal tally when Jack Bar scored 90 seconds into the third and then Hutson at the 4:15 mark to give the team an 8-2 victory.
Freer-Lane turned aside 20 shots for his first win of the tournament.
After scoring fifteen goals in two games, the Vees look dangerous. They also only allowed two goals against, and so far, the Vees look like the team to beat in the Okanagan Cup.
Next up for Penticton is another back to back, this time against the West Kelowna Warriors. The series marks the first time the Vees hit the road as they play against the Warriors at home and away.
The Warriors are coming off two straight wins against Vernon, so the upcoming series should be a great two-game set for both clubs.
West Kelowna makes the trip down to the SOEC this coming Friday, while the Vees will drive up the next night. Puck drop at the SOEC is scheduled for 6:00 pm while at the Royal LePage Place will be at 7:00 pm.