by Eddie Gregory
The Penticton Vees picked up their 4th straight win by a 4-3 score in Coquitlam Friday night. The loss for the Express was their 5th in a row.
Henry Rybinski made his Express debut after being signed earlier this week after starting the season with Medicine Hat of the WHL. Rybinski had been skating with the Express for the last month or so.
James Miller kept up his productive season on the Vees backend walking into a slap shot to beat Kolby Matthews after the Vees crafty entry into the Express zone for a powerplay goal. The Express have now given up a powerplay goal in 6 straight games.
It wasn’t the night Kolby Matthews was hoping for. As it turned out his only save of the night was a backhand chance for Cole Shepard after he undressed Pito Walton for a backhand chance.
Matthews night came to an end at 5:12 following a flip pass by the Express that was broken up by three Vees who went the other way and Andre Ghantous set up Drew Elser in the slot who put a shot through the pads of Matthews for a 2-0 lead on just three shots.
1:02 later the Express did get on the board thanks to a goal from Connor Gregga who sped into the Penticton zone and beat Jack Lafontaine with a wrist shot from just inside the post for his 8th of the season.
Chase Danol returned to the lineup Friday after missing Tuesday’s game in Langley. And his return helped pace the Express effort to claw back in the game. He was determined as anyone to win puck battles which would lead to chances at the other end.
At 3:26 of the second period a Danol shot from the right wing was stopped by Lafontiaine but the rebound was put home by Hunter Alden to tie the game at two on Alden’s second of the season.
Cole Shepard restored the Vees lead on a breakaway with a shot that handcuffed Clay Stevenson and the goaltender was never able to control the puck before it slid in for a 3-2 Penticton lead.
In the third period Dallas Farrell was whistled for two penalties. Just as his second infraction expired the puck came to James Miller who blasted his second of the night and BCHL defensemen leading 15th of the season for a 4-2 Vees lead.
Pito Walton made things interesting with a seeing eye shot from the middle of the ice for a powerplay goal with 4:43 remaining in the third period.
In the final minutes the Express had a number of chances to get the equalizer. Cooper Connell had a rebound opportunity that was ripped over the Vees net.
Then in the final seconds Jordan Schulting stepped into a hard shot that just went wide and the Vees held on the rest of the way.
The Express outshot the Vees 30-24.
Next weekend the Express will hit the road in Victoria, Nanaimo and Alberni Valley.