After opening their 2022-23 regular season with a 5-2 win on Friday night in Merritt, the Cranbrook Bucks payed a visit to the Penticton Vees on Saturday.
The Bucks were 2-13-0 all-time against Penticton heading into Saturday’s contest, with their record at the South Okanagan Events Centre appearing even more grim.
After facing the Vees 10 times in the Penticton Pod in 2020-21 and two more on the road last season, Cranbrook was a combined 1-11-0 at the SOEC in franchise history.
Despite their best efforts to put the demons of playing in Penticton behind them, it was a nightmare start for the Bucks.
The Vees jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the game was three minutes old, on goals by Dovar Tinling, Thomas Pichette, and Ben Brunette just 1:05 apart.
Even with an early, rather large hill to climb, the Bucks pushed back and got on the board themselves.
All in a five-second span, Kellan Hjartarson won a face-off to Noah Quinn, who dropped it off for Bauer Morrissey, who then found Luke Pfoh heading to the net.
Pfoh was able to finish the play for his second goal of the season, and Cranbrook was down just 3-1 at the 5:01 mark of the first period.
Penticton responded with a goal from Billy Norcross at 7:50 of the first to restore the three-goal lead. The Vees would carry the 4-1 lead into the first intermission after an opening period that saw them outshoot Cranbrook by a 17-6 total.
The Bucks continued to hang around with Penticton into the second period, but the Vees scored the only goal in the middle frame. Josh Nadeau found the scoresheet at 6:24 of the period to extended the lead to 5-1 for Penticton, and that’s where the score stayed into the second intermission.
The Bucks narrowed the shots-on-goal gap in the middle frame to an 11-5 clip in Penticton’s favour, but they would have a lot of work to do in the third.
In the final frame, Cranbrook continued to show some resilience in what was a lopsided game, but only the Vees found the net once again. Penticton got goals from Hiroki Gojsic at 6:20 and Bradley Nadeau at 15:19 to reach a 7-1 lead that held up as the final score.
The Bucks again narrowed the edge in play in the third, being outshot just 9-6 by the Vees, but they still took a heavy defeat in this one.
Pfoh’s second goal of the season was the only offense for Cranbrook, with Bauer Morrissey notching his second assist and Quinn collecting his first helper of the season.
Nathan Airey stopped 30 of the 37 shots he faced in what was a gusty effort in the Bucks’ net.
Following the defeat, Cranbrook is now 2-14-0 all-time against the Vees and 1-12-0 in matchups on the road.
The Bucks are back in action on Friday night in Trail before hosting the Smoke Eaters on Saturday to complete the home-and-home series.
The game’s official boxscore can be viewed here from the BCHL website, while the post-game recap from Cranbrook’s website can be seen here.
The game highlights can be viewed below courtesy of the Bucks YouTube page.