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BCHL  

Vees rally, beat Cents again

For the second time in a week, the Penticton Vees staged a third-period comeback to beat the Merritt Centennials.

The Vees skated off on the right side of a 4-2 score at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Friday night, in front of 2,912 fans in Penticton.

The first and second period looked a lot the same, as the Vees had more puck possession but weren't able to generate many quality chances, thanks to impressively structured defensive play by the Centennials.

Penticton led 26-12 in shots after 40 minutes but trailed 1-0 to Merritt.

The home team didn't take their foot off the gas, and it payed off against the Cents in the final frame.

Shortly after the Vees were whistled for a penalty early in the third period, Jonny Tychonick chipped a puck ahead to the two co-captains, Owen Sillinger and Grant Cruikshank, for a shorthanded two-on-oh. 

Sillinger fed a pass across to Cruikshank who scored on a one-timer to get the Vees on the board and put some air back in the SOEC.

Goals came quickly after that. Merritt would score its second powerplay goal of the night on that same Penticton penalty less than a minute later, restoring the lead for the visitors.

Less than a minute after that, Massimo Rizzo scored to knot things up at two, and Ryan Sandelin buried the eventual game-winning goal 61 seconds later.

The Vees stayed in control, outshooting the Cents 17-8 in the third period. Dakota Boutin iced it with an empty-net goal in the game's final minute.

Defensemen Luke Reid and Jonny Tychonick each had two assists, and goalie Nolan Hildebrand made 18 saves for his fourth win of the season.

The Centennials goals came from Bradley Cocca and Rylan Van Unen, and reigning B.C. Hockey League player of the week Jacob Berger stopped 39 shots in the loss.

The Vees led 43-20 in shots on the night, their second-highest shot output this season. Their highest shot total was 45, coming in Merritt during a 3-2 overtime win, seven nights ago.

Penticton continues to boast the league's best win-percentage, now at .864 per cent with nine wins, one loss and one tie through 11 games.

Both Chris Klack and Joe Leahy sat out with injuries for the Vees. 

The Vees will jump on the bus and travel south of the border on Saturday, where they will visit the Wenatchee Wild at the Town Toyota Centre. 

Saturday's game will be the first meeting this season between the Wild and the Vees, who are now Interior division opponents.

The Wild won the Mainland division a season ago, but this year have switched to the Interior. 

Penticton sits two points ahead of Wenatchee in the division standings, despite having played three fewer games to date.



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