The last time the Penticton Vees fired two quick goals against the Vernon Vipers, they were fortunate to sneak out of Kal Tire Place with a 2-1 win.
The Vees’ rapid-fire offence clicked again Friday night in Vernon, producing the games’ first two goals just eight seconds apart. Only this time they went on to punish the Snakes 6-1 in front of nearly 1,900 B.C. Hockey League fans, many of whom headed for the exits with half a period remaining.
Cody DePourcq paced the Penticton attack with his 15th and 16th goals of the season, including the winner on a weak shot from the blueline that fooled netminder Austin Smith with 5:08 to play in period one.
Erik Benoit (4th goal) had recorded one of the Vees’ two powerplay goals just eight seconds earlier. Penticton went 2-for-3 on the man advantage, while holding Vernon scoreless on their three cracks at the powerplay.
“We started the game well but they got those two quick goals and it just deflated us,” said Vernon head coach Jason Williamson. “We need our better players and older guys to play better. We’re not asking them to do overly complicated things. They just have to stick to the systems.”
Benoit and Shane McColgan, both WHL free agents who signed with the Interior Division-leading Vees (28-11-2-4) earlier this month, each finished with a goal and assist.
“It’s good to get that first win for myself, individually, but for the team, it’s big and it gives us some momentum,” said McColgan, a former Kelowna Rocket sniper who missed the first five months of the season. The California product has 84 goals and 271 points in 291 career games in the Dub.
“I had a pretty bad injury over the summer, but I feel like I’m getting my legs back, my timing. It’s starting to click.”
McColgan’s first goal as a Vee came midway through the second period on quick feed from behind the net by Benoit to make it 4-1.
“Me and Benny played last year together in Saskatoon (Blades). Between the two of us we have four Memorial Cups that we’ve attended and we’ve got that chemistry and playoff experience this team needs to go far.”
Jarod Hilderman, with his first-ever BCHL goal, made it 3-0 for the visitors early in the second period on a bad-angle shot from the corner that somehow redirected past a shaky Smith.
Logan Mick (4th) gave Vernon a glimmer of hope as he crashed Olivier Mantha’s crease to bury the rebound off a Demico Hannoun backhander at 9:36, but snipes later in the frame by McColgan and DePourcq put the game out of reach.
“Our fourth goal was huge,” said Vees’ head coach Fred Harbinson. “We kind of got the heart out of them a little bit and we just had to stick to the game-plan after that.
“There’s been a lot of disappointment the last week in losing three one-goal games, especially the last one where we had a 2-0 lead at home. Tonight, when we got that first powerplay goal, and another right after that, I got the sense from our guys that we weren’t just going to sit back.”
The Vipers are third in the Interior Division at 23-15-3-5, but are 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 outings. They visited the fifth-place Merritt Centennials (22-18-3-1) Saturday at Nicola Valley Arena.
Said Mick: “I don’t really know what’s going on right now, but we’re in a bit of a slump here and we’ve got to find a way to get out of it. They scored a couple of quick ones and we kind of took it for granted and we weren’t really panicking like we should have.
“Then they scored a couple more and there’s not really much you can do against a good team like that.”
Smith never recovered after those two quick goals and was pulled after allowing five goals on 20 shots. Danny Todosychuk gave up one goal to Josh Blanchard (3rd) in facing a dozen shots. Mantha made 31 saves for his 15th win.