Tychonick pots winner for Vees

The Penticton Vees opened the B.C. Hockey League season with road win over Merritt

Jonny Tychonick netted the winner and Owen Sillinger was named first star as the Penticton Vees opened the B.C. Hockey League season with a 4-2 win in Merritt.

The Vees began their quest to defend their BCHL championship by jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the opening two minutes on goals by Sillinger at 1:40 and his brother Lukas Sillinger seven seconds later. The Vees outshot the Centennials 14-9. Cassidy Bowes assisted on the first goal, while Ben Allen assisted on the other.

Penticton Vee Cassidy Bowes (92) and Merritt Centennial Brendan Schneider wait for the puck to drop during the opening day of the B.C. Hockey League’s new season at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Ian Webster/Merritt Herald

“It was good. You know, sooner or later in this building, you’re going to get a couple [of goals] go against you,” Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said to the Merritt Herald. I knew even though we were up by two a couple of minutes into the game that [the Centennials] would push back. It didn’t surprise me that they found a way to come back. We made a couple of errors in the second period.”

The Centennials cut the lead in half early in the middle frame when Zach Court beat Vees goalie Nolan Hildebrand. Just over five minutes later, Zach Zorn scored the equalizer. Tychonick scored the winning goal at 11:57 on the power play, which went one-for-eight.

“Getting the powerplay goal was huge, and gave us a lead going into the third,” said Harbinson. “I thought it was a back-and-forth period in the third. We finally played a little more sound, and didn’t give up a lot of shots, and got the goal we needed late.”

With 56 seconds remaining in regulation, Taylor Ward added an insurance marker after taking a feed from Ryan Sandelin.

Hildebrand finished with 26 saves, while Jacob Berger made 34 saves on 38 shots.

“He (Hildebrand) battled through a lot of difficult things with us last year, and was a good soldier for us. He deserved to get the start tonight. Scheel will probably go next Friday. I want both guys to be ready early.”