May 6, 2017
by Fraser Rodgers
PENTICTON, B.C. –The Penticton Vees are win away from booking their spot in the RBC Cup.
The Vees shutout the Battlefords North Stars 4-0 Saturday afternoon in playoff action at the Western Canada Cup and will now face their BCHL arch rivals from Chilliwack, again, on Sunday afternoon, after the Chiefs lost 6-1 to the Brooks Bandits in the Championship game.
The Vees got goals from Taylor Ward and Massimo Rizzo on the power-play and Grant Cruikshank chipped in with a short-handed marker. Jared Nash scored the Vees only even-strength marker late in the second period.
Mat Robson picked up his first shutout of the tournament and his second of the playoffs, kicking-out all 23 shots he faced.
Late in the opening frame Ward broke the scoreless tie on the Vees’ first power-play of the afternoon. Nicholas Jones threaded the needle, going cross-crease to Ward, who roofed the puck over Joel Gryzbowski at 15:06; all three of Ward’s goals during tournament have now come on the power-play.
Penticton’s power-play flexed its muscles again, as they added to their lead early in the second. It was another great pass by Jones, centering for Rizzo from the wall and the 15-year-old promptly fired a dart over Gryzbowski’s glove at 3:23; Rizzo’s first of the tournament.
Jared Nash’s hard-work down-low paid off late in the second, as he shoveled in a rebound between Gryzbowski’s from the crease at 16:43. Nash followed the puck to the net, and despite being outnumber, muscled in a backhand attempt.
Cruikshank put the game out of reach midway through the third period. During a North Stars power-play, the Vees speedy winger blocked a shot near his blue-line, before racing after the rebound in the neutral zone. Cruikshank carried it in down the left-wing and put a well-placed shot low and past the blocker of Gryzbowski at 10:43.
Just before the short-handed goal, Gabe Bast tried his hand at goaltending. During that penalty-kill, Bast dropped to his knees in the crease and blocked a Coby Downs shot, after Robson was stuck on the other side of the net.
Final Score: 4-0 Penticton
Shots: 38-23 Penticton
Power-Plays: Penticton 2-8 Battlefords 0-2
The Vees advance to Sunday’s RBC Cup “Play-In” game against the Chilliwack Chiefs; puck drop is scheduled for 4 pm. Tickets are $25 and are available at the Valley First box office, or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com
The game is streamed live, in HD, on www.hockeyTV.com