Vees open title defence with thriller
Sep 7, 2012 / 10:30 pm
Mitch Gillam did everything except drive the team bus in an effort to get his Chilliwack Chiefs at least a single point against the defending RBC Cup champion Penticton Vees.
The 19-year-old netminder came up 58.2 seconds short.
Wade Murphy, one of four holdovers from the Vees championship run, snapped a 1-1 tie with a 20-foot wrist shot through the legs of a screened Gillam in a 2-1 Penticton victory.
After the teams put up goose eggs through 40 minutes, Vees head coach Fred Harbinson says he told his players they needed to get traffic in front of Gillam if they were going to be successful.
That led directly to Murphy's game winner.
"That's exactly what we talked about. As a coach you get excited when you talk about something to your team and they go and execute - it shows they are listening," says Harbinson.
"It's nice to be 1-0 rather than 0-1 right now.
After a less than exciting opening period the Vees got rolling in the second forcing Gillam to make several spectacular saves, the best off Cam Amantea from in close after the Vees rookie stole the puck from Chiefs defenceman Shay Laurent.
The game was still scoreless after 40 minutes, mostly due to Gillam who turned away 18 shots over each of the first two periods.
Harbinson says there were moments when he wondered whether they would ever score.
"We saw him a lot last year and he had some great games against us so we were prepared coming in. We knew it was going to be tough to get some by him," says Harbinson.
"Lucky for us tonight we got one more than they did."
Rookie Brad McClure finally got the first one by Gillam 2:18 into the third when a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle sailed over the goaltender's shoulder and into the far corner.
The Chiefs would tie it six minutes later when Austin Plevy beat Chad Katunar five-hole from a sharp angle on a Chiefs five-on-three power-play.
The Chiefs had some chances to get the go ahead goal but Katunar was equal to the task.
Prior to the start of the season Harbinson indicated it might take some time for a team with 18 new bodies to hit its stride and come together.
That process started in earnest as the Vees were able to find a way to win late.
"You bet. That's a very good hockey team over there, you're on the road and we'd only played two exhibition games," stated Harbinson.
"Especially when you give up the five-on-three goal to let them back in it and they are getting some chances, it would have been easy for us to fold but instead we pushed back."
The Vees have a quick turnaround as they take on the Vernon Vipers at 3:30 Saturday afternoon before heading back home.
Three were three other games to open up the Showcase event in Chilliwack Friday all involving Island and Coastal Division clubs.
Langley Rivermen 7 Alberni Valley Bulldogs 3
Ben Butcher led the way for the Rivermen scoring twice. Scott Moyer had a goal and an assist while Matt Ustaski added a goal and an assist. Evan Tironese had a pair of assists for the Bulldogs.
Coquitlam Express 1 Victoria Grizzlies 0 (Overtime)
Brady Shaw scored the game winner for the Express 59 second into the first five minute overtime period. Cole Huggins turned aside 40 shots for the shutout while Brady Rouleau turned aside 26 shots to take the hard-luck loss.
Surrey Eagles 3 Powell River Kings 2 (Overtime)
Demico Hannoun scored the game winner for the Eagles 61 seconds into the first overtime period. Former West Kelowna Warrior Brett Mulcahy had a goal and an assist for the winners. J.P. Villeneuve had a goal and an assist in a losing cause.
The West Kelowna Warriors arrive in Chilliwack Saturday for a 3 p.m. date with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. West Kelowna faces Surrey at 5:30 Sunday afternoon.
The Vipers who do battle with Penticton Saturday afternoon jump back into action Sunday morning at 10:30 against Powell River.
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