Vees prevail in double OT thriller


Brock Balson's second goal of the game 9:47 into double overtime Monday lifted the Penticton Vees to a thrilling 5-4 victory over the West Kelowna Warriors.

Balson converted a two-on-one break and beat Tyler Briggs high to the glove side.

The Vees a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Interior Division final with a chance to wrap up the series Tuesday back at Royal LePage Place.

The overtime goal capped a third period comeback by the Vees who trailed 4-2 after 40 minutes.

Balson kick started the rally with a power-play goal midway through the third when he grabbed a rebound in front of Briggs, made a nifty move and slid the puck into the empty side of the net.

Brad McClure got the equalizer at 19:09 banging the puck in off a wild scramble in front of the Warriors net with the goaltender on the bench for an extra attacker.

"I think you have to give them credit. They're a great team and they find a way to win and that's what great teams do," stated a dejected Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster.

"We seem to find ways to lose against them. They have their goalie pulled and score in the last minute - how many times has that happened."

After falling behind 2-0 in the opening period the Warriors battled back to score four unanswered goals to take the 4-2 lead.

David Pope with his first of two and Matt Anholt scored 24 seconds apart late in the first to tie it before Pope 1:13 into second and Ambrose Firkus with a highlight reel goal doubled the lead before the end of the second.

The Warriors had several glorious chances to increase the lead before the end of the second but were unable to get the 5-2 goal.

Pope had a chance for the hat-trick but Chad Katunar made a spectacular leg save from in close.

Seb Lloyd just missed on a one-timer with Katunar down and out and Reid Simmonds was unable to find a loose puck at the corner of the crease with Katunar again out of position.

"I have to give our guys a lot of credit. When it went to 4-2 it was the first time I saw our guys start to press a little bit maybe trying a little too hard, doing things we're not used to doing," says winning Penticton coach Fred Harbinson.

"At that point West Kelowna had a number of chances to make it 5-2 but our goaltender did what he does best and kept them at bay and bought us a chance to come down in the third period only down by two and our guys clawed back."

Louie Nanne scored the other two goals for the Vees while Wade Murphy added three assists.

The Vees had the better of the chances in overtime, the best came off the stick of John Siemer who drilled a shot off the crossbar from the left face-off circle

Despite the loss Ferster was proud of the effort his club displayed saying he doesn't think they could play any better.

Down three games to none the Warriors find their season hanging in the balance with game four Tuesday night.

"We have an opportunity to play tomorrow and that's the most important thing, we still have an opportunity. You can pull out all the cliches but of course it's first to four and we have an opportunity to play. That's the only thing that matters right now," says Ferster.

The Warriors were down to just 18 skaters for the game after Brennan Clark was handed a two game suspension for a check from behind in game two and Adam Plant was a late scratch with an illness.

His status for game four won't be known until Tuesday.

Should the Warriors be victorious Tuesday a fifth game would be played back in Penticton Thursday night.

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