With the top-ranked team in the BCHL in town to face the Cranbrook, the Bucks were looking to make a statement and finish strong in the closing days of the regular season.
The Herd dug deep on Friday, March 18, to earn a solid victory over the Penticton Vees — their first ever against the Vees, but the visitors found their firepower the next night for the win, and get the split in the double-header at Western Financial Place.
Friday’s game started off in bizarre fashion. The Bucks scored an early goal at 3:54, from Bauer Morrissey in front of Penticton’s net. Some Twenty-five seconds later, Ryan Hopkins put one past Nathan Airey, in net for the Bucks, and it was game tied.
For the first two periods, the Bucks had to work hard defensively against the Vees, but were able to keep them to the outside away from Airey for the most part. The Bucks also got their chances, especially in the first. Penticton poured it on in the second, outshooting Cranbrook 13-8 in the period, but Luke Phoh made it 2-1 Bucks, knocking in a bounce in front of Vees’ goalie Kaeden Lane.
Penticton tied it just over a minute into the third period, but then Noah Quinn scored two unanswered goals, two and a half minutes apart (the first on the power play), to make it 4-2. Jarrod Smith added an empty net insurance marker in the dying seconds, for the first ever regulation win over Penticton in Bucks history.
Only three penalties were called all game, two of them on the Vees.
Announced attendance at Western Financial Place on Friday was 2,156.
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The Bucks were looking for a second victory over the Vees on Saturday, March 19, but Penticton were firing on all cylinders, and ended up with a 6-1 victory.
Cranbrook opened scoring towards the end of a hard-hitting first period, with a Cam Kungle shot from the point. But Penticton went on the rampage in the second frame, with four unanswered goals from Adam Eisele (who scored twice), Jackson Nieuwendyk and Brad Nadeau.
Compared to Friday night’s game, Saturday saw hostilities come to the fore. Twenty-four penalties were called, including some Misconducts for roughing and fighting. During the brouhaha, Brett Moravec and Luc Wilson scored again for the Vees.
Penticton again outshot the Bucks, 37-24. Nathan Airey was again in goal for Cranbrook, Carter Serhyenko between the pipes for Penticton.
Announced attendance at Western Financial Place Saturday was 2,171.
With the loss, the Bucks are set for no higher than fifth place in the Interior Conference of the BCHL, and would likely face the Prince George Spruce Kings (4th place) in the playoffs. However, there is still one more game to play — versus the Wenatchee Wild on Saturday, March 26. And the Vernon Vipers, three points behind the Bucks in the standings, have two games left. So the Bucks must look to win their last game of the season to cement fifth place.