Joey Benik scored a pair of goals Monday night as the Penticton Vees took a 3-1 decision in game three of their first round playoff series versus the hometown Chilliwack Chiefs.
The Chiefs fought tooth and nail against the Interior conference top dogs and had a chance to tie in the final minute.
But an empty netter put the game away, giving the visiting Vees a 2-1 lead in the series.
The Chiefs came out fast and physical in the opening minutes of this one.
Michael Spring set the tone on the first shift, running over Penticton blueliner Mike Reilly behind the Vees net. Derek Huisman followed his lead a couple shifts later, leveling Wade Murphy with a solid hit along the left-wing boards.
Chilliwack did a nice job taking away Penticton’s time and space, but the Vees still managed to open the scoring at 11:12 of period one on a goal that Chiefs netminder Mitch Gillam would love to have back.
Benik did the damage with a wrist shot from beyond the left faceoff circle, sneaking the puck under Gillam’s glove and just inside the right goal-post.
The resilient Chiefs answered back just 1:15 later on a goal by Trevor Hills. The overtime hero in game two cruised through the Vees goal-mouth and deflected a David Thompson point shot past Penticton keeper Chad Katunar.
Chilliwack killed off a late Vees power play and escaped to the first intermission tied 1-1.
Shots on goal through 20 minutes favoured Chilliwack 9-8.
The second period pretty much looked like one big Penticton power play, with the Vees owning the puck from start to finish.
The Chiefs didn’t help their cause with penalties, and it was a Thompson tripping minor that led to the only goal of the middle frame. Mike Reilly scored it, one timing a feed from Troy Stecher at 17:05.
The other highlight of period two was a scrap between Chilliwack’s Shay Laurent and Penticton’s Logan Johnston.
Laurent got Johnston’s attention when he bowled over Mario Lucia at the Chiefs blueline. The two dropped their mitts in the left corner and traded rights. Laurent had to leave the game for a few minutes due to blood on his jersey.
We’re not sure who’s.
Shots on goal in the second period favoured Penticton 17-5, but Chilliwack skated into the third period with a chance.
Penticton was uncharacteristically passive in the final frame, opting to win it with defence.
They did a good job of it.
Chilliwack had the edge in puck possession, but couldn’t generate more than a couple solid chances against the Vees D.
The last gasp came with 49 seconds left as Gillam came to the bench for the extra attacker. But off the faceoff, Thompson bobbled the puck at the point and Benik had a clear path to the empty net, scoring his second of the night to secure victory for the Vees.
The three stars were Reilly (first), Gillam (second) and Benik (third).
Game four is Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Prospera Centre.