Wade Murphy and Louie Nanne each scored twice, and the Vees staved off a Trail third period rally, winning 7-6 Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The Vees scored five goals in the second to go ahead 7-2, before nearly squandering the lead after Trail scored four in just over seven minutes in the final frame.
Trail struck first in the opening period off the stick of Jesse Knowler, who sneaked a wrist-shot through the legs of Chad Katunar at 1:21.
The lead looked like it was going to hold up through the first before the Vees manufactured two late goals in just under a minute and a half. Sam Mellor evened the game at one’s with his sixth of the season at 17:32. Mellor walked into the left-circle and wired a shot over the glove of Smokies starter Adam Todd.
The Vees then went ahead by one just over a minute later off a fortuitous bounce in the Trail end. Cam Amantea was gift wrapped his second career goal at 18:58, when he slid a back-hand past a fallen Todd. The Vees dumped the puck in before it bounced off the end-wall and out front to Amantea, who quickly deked-out Todd for his first goal in 17 games.
Wade Murphy put the Vees up 3-1 early in the second period. Murphy stripped the defenseman off the puck from behind the net, and walked out and roofed a wrist-shot over Todd at 2:19; Murphy’s first of two in the period.
Louie Nanne got in on the act just before the six-minute mark. Nanne broke in on the right-wing and from the circle let go laser that whistled past Todd at 5:59; Nanne’s six goal of the year.
Ryan Gropp padded the lead at 14:43, cashing in on a Sam Mellor rebound. Gropp drove the net after Todd stopped Mellor’s wrist-shot and pounced on the juicy rebound in the crease for his sixth of the campaign.
Shane Poulsen stopped the bleeding for Trail not even a minute after the Gropp tally. On a power-play, Poulsen moved in from the right-point and had his wrist-shot go off the glove of Katunar and in at 15:30; Trail scoring 47 seconds after the Gropp goal.
The Vees kept attacking and bagged two more goals before the period was out. Louie Nanne picked up his second of the period when he blasted a slap-shot over Todd at 16:47; a howitzer from the left-wing just inside the blue-line.
Adam Todd was pulled after the Vees made it 6-1, as Lyndon Stanwood came on in relief.
Wade Murphy picked up his second, short-handed no less, when he again stole the puck from behind the goal. Murphy lifted the puck from Shane Poulsen and stick-handled around Stanwood for his 13th goal of the season at 18:04; two Vees goals in 1:47.
Once the dust settled, six goals were scored in the middle frame, five by the Vees, four between Nanne and Murphy.
The Vees looked well on their way to their 16th win of the season, leading 7-2 after two, or so they thought. The Smokies rallied in the third period, scoring four unanswered goals in 7:18 to put a scare into the Vees and their fans.
Ryan Edwards started the rally when he converted on a rebound at 10:18. Edwards, from a scramble in front of the goal, buried his third goal against the Vees this season to trim the deficit to four.
Austin Adduono made things interesting when he forced a puck over the goal-line at 12:31. After Katunar stopped both Connor Collett and Tyler Berkholtz, Adduono chipped the puck over the outstretched Katunar and just over the goal-line; the deficit now down to three.
The Smoke Eaters kept coming and made it a two-goal game just 1:14 after the Adduono goal. Valik Chichkin leaned into a wrist-shot at the blue-line the eluded the glove of Katunar at 13:17; the goal credited to Bennett Hambrook. The Smoke Eaters fifth goal spelled the end of Katunar’s night, as was pulled in favour of Nic Renyard; Katunar surrendering five goals on 27 shots.
The switch in goal didn’t seem to spark the Vees, as Penticton product, Tyler Berkholtz made it a 7-6 game at 17:36. The Smokies forward intercepted a puck at the side of the Vees net, before firing a shot through the wickets of Renyard, creating an nerve-racking final two and a half minutes.
However, that’s as close as Trail would get, as the Smoke Eaters comeback attempt fell one goal short. The win sealed by a late penalty against Trail after Troy Stecher was high-sticked inside the final minute.
FINAL SCORE 7-6 VEES
Shots: 35-30 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 0/3 Trail 1/5
Three Stars: 1) Wade Murphy 2) Louie Nanne 3) Ryan Gropp
Vees Notes: Wade Murphy’s three points against Trail vaulted him back to the top of the BCHL scoring race; one point up on the Warrior’s Marcus Basara. Murphy also extended his BCHL-best point-streak to 19 games, and now has three goals and eight points in three games against Trail. Louie Nanne’s two goals pushes his total to seven, five of which coming against the Smoke Eaters.
The win is the Vees fifth straight against Trail at the SOEC, outscoring the Smokies 46-14 during the streak, which dates back to February of 2011.
Up Next: The Vees are back in action on Friday, November 23rd when they host the Vernon Vipers; face-off is 7pm. Friday starts a home-and-home with the Vipers, the return leg, Saturday, November 24th at the Wesbild Centre.