You never want Scott Conway in your neighbourhood come overtime in the B.C Hockey League.
The 20-year-old centre has been clutch and then some with games on the line this year. The Basingstoke, England product was at it again Tuesday night, feeding Chris Gerrie in double overtime as the Vees upended the Vernon Vipers 5-4 before 1,750 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Conway, who has more moves than Cirque du Soleil on the Vegas strip, went into the tilt with 10 game-winning snipes, including five in overtime. He and Gerrie moved into the Viper zone on a 2-on-1 with Gerrie beating Andrew Shortridge from the left side for his 10th of the season, 1:41 into double OT.
“He (Conway) creates a lot of offence out there so you kind of just have to go to the net and put your stick on the ice and he’ll find a way to get it to you,” said Gerrie, a 19-year-old Red Deer product who has two GWGs. “I was screaming at him. I haven’t scored in a while so I wanted it pretty bad.”
Conway was the Vees’ prize summer recruit, signing him in late June after he left the Penn State Nittany Lions after his freshman year for personal reasons. He compiled 10 goals and 26 points in 34 games with the Lions and was named to the Big Ten All-Rookie team; second-highest scoring freshman in the Big Ten.
With just about everybody in the rink, including the West Kelowna Warriors’ coaching staff, expecting Conway to pocket the OT winner, he instead forced the extra sessions with a powerplay goal on a wrister from the ringette line with 2:24 remaining in regulation.
He didn’t have a great look for a shot on the 2-on-1 with Gerrie, but has won games with lesser chances.
“I had both options I guess, but at the last second, the dee kind bit on me a little bit and the goalie was also out pretty far so I thought I’d slide it over to for a tap in for Chris Gerrie there,” said Conway, who finished with 2+2 for first star and now has 30 goals on the year.
It was easily the most exciting game of the season at The Big Wheel and perhaps the most intensity and pushback the Vipers have shown at home. Referees Ryan Dawson and Riley Balson let the boys play for the most part, Brandt getting nailed for charging d-man Colton Poolman against the sidewall to give the Vees their final powerplay.
“This is what we’re all playing hockey for, games like this,” said Conway, who is riding a 31-game points streak. “You know it wasn’t gonna be an easy game in this barn. Rivals like this, we have it out for each other. We battled through adversity. That penalty shot there, in my opinion, wasn’t a call but we did a good job working through that and came out with a win.”
Conway hustled back and lifted Hunter Zandee’s stick on a breakaway with 6:18 left in the third period. Zandee went low on Anthony Brodeur on the ensuing penalty shot for his fifth goal of the year.
A minute and change earlier, Jagger Williamson sprung out of the penalty box and was stoned by Brodeur on a breakaway.
Just 22 seconds before Brandt’s penalty ‑ the teams each took two minors on the night – Brandt and ex-Viper Luke Voltin collided and crashed through the crease, knocking Shortridge to the ice and the net off its moorings.
It was 3-2 Vipers after 20 minutes and 3-3 after 40. Vernon outshot Penticton 41-29.
“We’re always close with Pen; we can’t seem to close it out,” said Viper leading scorer Odeen Tufto, an 18-year-old Minnesota product who just signed a scholarship with the NCAA Quinnipiac Bobcats.
“I think it’s the little things. Last time, we played against Pen, we got into penalty trouble and this time, there’s two minutes left and we’re up by one and we take a penalty and they score. It’s the details. They’re a smart team and they know not to do that and they got in our heads and got a powerplay off it. That’s the reason they tied it and won in overtime on a good play.”
Tufto believes the Vipers can take positives from gaining a point on the No. 2 team in the nation, but he was hardly over the moon with the single digit.
“When you lose to them four times and they’re all close, it gets pretty old.”
Benjamin Brar, with his fourth of the year, after he picked d-man Mac Ferner’s pocket at the blueline and went forehand, backhand on Shortridge, put the Vees up 5:59 after the national anthem.
Steven Jandric completed a bang-bang play in tight with Ben Butcher to level the score seven minutes later. Jandric has seven snipes.
Just seven seconds later, Christian Cakebread banged in his seventh from the low slot, from Tufto and Jimmy Lambert.
Penticton equalized 57 seconds later when Darius Davidson dialed up his 12th. Conway made a great sideways move after scooping an errant pass and backhanded to Davidson for a tap in from the left side.
Lambert registered his ninth with 39 seconds to play in the opening period, soaring down the left wing and beating Brodeur high on a snapper. Conway tied it early in the second period just 15 seconds into a powerplay with blueliner Bo Pellah off for slashing.
Nick Jones fed Conway for the quick finish. Davidson earned the secondary helper. Pellah’s penalty came shortly after the Vees hemmed the Vipers in their zone for about 75 seconds. Both Brandt and Brett Stapley limped to the bench after blocking point shots during the barrage.
The Vees improved to 30-3-1, while the Vipers dipped to 15-18-0-3.
Penticton was without projected 2016 NHL first-rounders Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro, while the Vipers missed second-leading scorer Liam Finlay, all with Team Canada West.
Finlay fired the winner, assisted by Jost, Tuesday as Team Canada West edged the Americans 3-2 at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Couburg, Ont.
The Vees dressed three affiliates with d-man Daniel Stone seeing time in overtime.
Vernon visits the red-hot Trail Smoke Eaters tonight, sitting three points in front of the Smokies in the fourth and final Interior Division playoff spot.
Penticton starts a home and home series with the Warriors starting Friday at Royal LePage Place.