The Penticton Vees returned to their winning ways Friday night (Feb. 10), defeating the Coquitlam Express 5-2 and sending a near-capacity crowd at the South Okanagan Events Centre home happy on the annual Pink the Rink Night.
In front of more than 4,700 people, Penticton used a multi-point effort from rookie defenceman Gabe Guilbault to record its league-leading 36th victory of the year after a 27-day hiatus away from home.
Guilbault scored his first-career BCHL goal in the third period, finishing with two points and taking home the game’s first-star honours.
Along with the Burnaby-born defenceman, Ryan Hopkins, Nic DeGraves, Thomas Pichette, and Brett Moravec also found the back of the net for the Vees.
Penticton is now 17-0-0-0 on home ice this season.
Before Friday’s showdown even started, the Express were already shorthanded.
Forward Evan Brown was issued an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the aftermath of the pre-game festivities, sending the Vees to the power play and setting up Hopkins to open the scoring just 1:27 into the game.
After finding themselves on the wrong side of a 4-0 game, Coquitlam (19-14-4-2) would answer a pair of third-period markers before Movarec iced the game with an empty-net goal.
The Vees sported pink jerseys Friday night, in support of local anti-bullying causes.
They were joined by thousands in wearing pink, including students from elementary schools across the South Okanagan.
The interconference showdown at the SOEC marked the first game between the Vess and Express since February 2020.
Penticton (36-3-0-1) is one of only four teams in the BCHL to clinch a playoff spot, joined by the Cranbrook Bucks, Nanaimo Clippers and Surrey Eagles.
Fred Harbinson’s squad is back in action Friday, Feb. 17, when they host the West Kelowna Warriors (22-14-4-0).