Vees take division pennant

Brad McClure suits the hero role quite well. The Penticton Vees Captain scored the overtime-winner, as the Vees held-off the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 3-2 Saturday, and clinched the Interior Division Regular Season pennant in the process.

McClure scored the game-winner, right off a face-off 1:23 into the first overtime period. Erik Benoit won the face-off back to McClure, who then moved to the slot before rifling a wrist-shot past Angus Redmond’s blocker; McClure’s 41st sending over three thousand fans into a frenzy.

Former Vee Evan Anderson forced the extra frame, when his centering pass from the corner deflected off Brett Beauvais’ leg and in, with just 36 seconds left in the third; Anderson’s 21st coming with the Salmon Arm goalie pulled in favour of the extra-attacker.

Salmon Arm opened the scoring just 76 seconds into the first period, when Alex Gillies capitalized on a Silverbacks power-play. Brett Fagerheim spotted Gillies at the bottom of the left-circle and his wrist-shot squeezed by Hunter Miska on the short-side.

Cam Amantea tied the game five-minutes later when he finished off an end-to-end rush. Amantea started from his own blue-line, before darting down the right-wing and sneaking a backhand between Redmond’s glove and the post at 6:46; his first goal in 16 games.

The Vees went ahead for the first time in the dying moments of the second period. On a five-on-three power-play, and with the clock winding down, Erik Benoit swatted in a rebound at the side of the Silverbacks net at 19:58. Brett Beauvais blasted a shot high and wide from the slot, but the puck caromed off the end boards and right out to Benoit on the far-side of the net; his 8th and second in three games.

Hunter Miska was terrific in the first period and was a major reason why the two teams were tied after twenty-minutes. Miska stopped 11 of 12 shots in the frame, including several quality chances in-close; his best stop was when he robbed Jeff Kennedy, when he came across to his right kicking-out his right leg.

The Vees finish the regular season with a 36-16-2-4 and capture their third consecutive Interior Division Regular Season pennant. The Vees finish with a 19-7-0-3 record at home and win their last three games against Salmon Arm, after dropping the first five games in the season series.

Brad McClure finishes fourth in BCHL scoring, amassing 41 goals and 80 points in 58 games.  Hunter Miska and Olivier Mantha finish second and third in goals-against average amongst BCHL goalies.

The Vees now face the Merritt Centennials in the first round of the Interior Division playoffs. They last met in the spring of 2012, when the Vees knocked-out the Centennials in five games in the Interior Division final. Game one is set for Tuesday, March 4th at the SOEC; puck drop is slated for7 p.m..


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