Cam Amantea came up clutch, while Riley Alferd was the dagger for the Penticton Vees in a 3-2 victory against the Nanaimo Clippers in Game 5 of the BCHL Final.
On a night in which co-captain Cody DePourcq was recognized for everything he has done during his four years with the Vees, he watched from a luxury suite as his teammates once again rose to the occasion and delivered for him. Twice the Vees were down a goal in front of the crowd of 2,349 at the South Okangan Events Centre and got the equalizer.
The crucial one was by Amantea, who burst into the Clippers zone from the penalty box side and cut to the front of the net and tucked a shot just inside the post past Guillaume Decelles extended right pad. The goal came four seconds after Kale Bennett’s penalty expired and sent Vees fans into a frenzy at 11:44 of the third.
“Cammer stepped up huge for us there,” said Vees assistant captain and Duncan product Steen Cooper. “A guy that doesn’t really get recognized for scoring big goals like that. He didn’t have a lot of ice time and he’s always a positive guy and it paid off for him. I think the boys were pretty excited to see him get that one.”
Cooper said Amantea’s equalizer gave the team a huge boost of energy. It was the fifth goal of the playoffs for Amantea, who scored just as many in 44 regular season games.
Just under four minutes later, Alferd snapped home the winner as his stick exploded.
“My stick shattered in my hands and I didn’t really see the puck until the last second and I didn’t think I got good enough wood on it,” said Alferd, who was interrupted mid interview by line mate Jack Ramsey who mentioned the great feed he made for Alferd to score.
Alferd’s goal appeared to catch part of Decelles glove, but Alferd, committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha didn’t know.
“They don’t ask how, they ask how many,” he smiled. “As long as it goes in the net, it can go in by an inch, it can go through the netting, I don’t care, it went in.”
Alferd, named the game’s first star, was found in the high slot as Ramsey skated towards the back of the Clippers goal. Alferd said it was the perfect lane they tried finding all game.
“They had been shutting it down pretty well and it opened up,” said Alferd, who scored his fifth goal of the playoffs. “I was screaming just hoping he would get it to me and he did. I just tried putting as much into that shot as I could.”
The first period was scoreless, though the Vees held a 13-7 shot advantage. In the second period, the Vees led in shots again, 16-10, but Corey Renwick put the Clippers up 1-0 when his shot beat Hunter Miska high glove. Demico Hannoun evened the score six minutes later as Patrick Newell, the game’s second star, set him up for a one-timer that beat Decelles high. Vees co-captain Patrick Sexton also collected an assist. Ryan Forbes put the Clippers back on top as they forced Miska to mishandled the puck behind his net and the play allowed Forbes to wrap the puck into the empty cage. Miska redeemed himself as he assisted on Amantea’s goal with Matthew Serratore, who also helped setup the winner.
Clippers captain Brendan Taylor felt his team played well the first two periods while having some ups and downs.
“In the third period we didn’t come out strong enough,” he said. “We knew they were going to come out with a big period. They did that and we just didn’t match it.”
He felt they lost some momentum on Amantea’s goal but just felt a push back was needed.
“I think just not sitting back in the third period,” he added. “We didn’t have our best period and we needed that to be our best period. We needed to come out flying and we didn’t do that. They did and that’s why they beat us.”
Decelles, the game’s third star, finished with 34 saves, while Miska had 24, including a massive right pad save on Taylor in the first period to keep the game scoreless.
The Vees now return to Nanaimo for Game 6 Friday where they will try to finish off the series at Frank Crane Arena to advance to the Western Canada Cup for the first time. Should the Clippers win, Game 7 returns to the SOEC on Sunday at 6 p.m.