4 goals from D in Vees win

Craig Beauchemin

Penticton Vees defender James Miller scored two goals and had four points while rookie blueliner Conner Hutchison scored the first two BCHL goals of his career, and Penticton routed the Merritt Centennials 6-2 on Wednesday.

The Vees carried a 3-0 lead after the opening period, with Lukas Sillinger, Ryan Sandelin — who scored his team-leading sixth goal — and Hutchison all scoring less than three minutes apart.

After a scoreless second, Michael Van Unen scored for Merritt less than two minutes into the third, breaking a shutout bid for Vees goalie Jack Lafontaine.

Miller and Hutchison tacked on two more for Penticton before Matthew Kopperud scored the Cents second goal. Miller added his second goal late in the game to put a bow on the 6-2 win.

Penticton led 45-21 on shots on the night and dominated special teams, going 3-9 on the powerplay and 3-3 on the penalty kill. The Cents had entered the night with the league's worst penalty kill percentage and third-worst powerplay.

In his first game since double shoulder surgery, Vees assistant captain Cassidy Bowes had a pair of assists. Brendan Harrogate finished with two assists as well, while David Silye had an assist and with 17 points in 10 games, remains tied for second in BCHL scoring.

Jack Lafontaine earned the win in goal, needing only 19 saves. He's allowed just four goals in his past four games, three of which have been Vees wins.

Penticton remains without captain Massimo Rizzo, who hasn't played this season due to a nagging back injury but is hopeful to return by the end of October. Drew Elser and Luke Loheit are both out with long-term injuries, while Mason Snell sat out due to a suspension after being given a checking-from-behind penalty on Saturday against Vernon.

Now 6-4 on the season, the Vees visit the 5-4-1 Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday night. They return home on Saturday to play the 2-7-1 Cowichan Valley Capitals for the second and final time this season, who the Vees beat for their first win of the season on Sept. 14.

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