Taylor Ward of the Penticton Vees heads up ice against the Portage Terriers in their final round robin game of the Western Canada Cup. Ward scored in their 5-3 win to advance to the playoff round on Saturday. Mark Brett/Western News

Vees put a muzzle on the Terriers to advance to WCC playoff round

Vees win over Portage sets up rematch with Battlefords in WCC 3rd vs. 4th match

The Penticton Vees have advanced to the playoff round of the Western Canada Cup.

The Vees defeated the Portage Terriers 4-3 on Taylor Sanheim’s winner with 7:31 remaining in the third.

“I just threw it on net and it was lucky to go,” said Sanheim, as Jared Nash did the hard work on the wrap around attempt after getting the puck from Griffin Mendel, who picked up the other assist.

The Vees dominated the third period outshooting the Terriers 15-1. The Vees generate a few chances in the final frame but couldn’t convert until Sanheim did against his former team. Duncan Campbell sealed their fate with an empty net goal assisted by Grant Cruikshank and Nicholas Jones.

Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson is happy the team gets another day and credited the Terriers for their performance.

“As usual we’re always used to being in tight games and the guys dug down,” said Harbinson. “We had a great third period. Our start was horrible again. We just tried to do too much. We were out of sorts again.”

The Vees were doubled in shots 12-6. Taylor Ward opened the scoring with 8:46 left on the Vees’ second shot of the period. That lead lasted just over a minute as Terrier Chase Brakel was able to take advantage of the puck hitting the stanchion behind the Vees net as Mathew Robson went to handle the puck. The puck shot to the front and the Terrier had an easy tap in. The Terriers then took a 2-1 lead 56 seconds later when Ty Barnstable and Jeremey Leipsic fed Mackenzie Dwyer, who beat Robson between his pads. Robson finished with 15 saves.

“I’ve got a do a better job of getting these guys to buy into what we need to do right from the onset,” said Harbinson. “Like they did during the regular playoffs. For some reason in this tournament we have had real tough starts. Uncharacteristic of us and I need to get them ready on Saturday.”

The Vees got two second period goals by Cruikshank. The first came 1:09 into the period as he used his speed to cut to the net and made a move around Chapman to tuck the puck around the goalies skate. His second came just over seven minutes later during a power play on a set up by Jones and Massimo Rizzo. Both finished with two assists on the night. Cruikshank snapped a shot by Chapman from near the high circle. Chapman finished with 27 saves.

As the clock ticked down to zero, the crowd of 2,709 gave a loud cheer to their team.

The Vees will play the Battlefords North Stars, who they beat in overtime to start the tournament. The winner of their game will play the loser of the Brooks/Chilliwack game for the second RBC Cup berth.

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Nicholas Jones crashes into Portage Terriers goalie Kurtis Chapman while trying to create a scoring chance. Mark Brett/Western News

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