Sports

Crowd praises Vees in final game

The tank was empty Saturday as the Penticton Vees failed to push their BCHL Interior Conference Final series to seven games.

That’s what Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson felt resulted in the 4-1 defeat to the Vernon Vipers at the South Okanagan Events Centre in front of 2,221 fans (including a contingent of Viper supporters).

“You could survive against a lot of teams in this league, but against Vernon, they are a great team and defending champs,” he said. “The only game that was a real disappointment was

Game 1.”

Not disappointing to Harbinson was the reaction the players received from their fans in the final two minutes.

“Cheering the guys when they knew the game was done told me they were pretty proud of the product we put on the ice,” said Harbinson. “(They) understood that the guys laid everything on the line. I think the guys really appreciated that. We did as a coaching staff. It meant a lot to hear the fans support guys like that.”

After Eric Filiou opened the scoring for the Vees giving them a 1-0 lead, it was shortlived as Vipers defenceman Dan Nycholat tied it just over a minute later on the power play. With four minutes remaining in the first, Braden Pimm beat Vees goalie Sean Bonar shortside. That proved to be the winner. The Vipers then added two power play goals in the second by Adam Thompson on a slapshot and Kellen Jones.

“I think every guy gave it all they had and came up short against a good team,” said Vees captain Denver Manderson. “I don’t want to make excuses but they ran three lines in overtime (Friday) as well but we have been running three lines for a month. That catches up to you. They have 15 guys that won a Canadian championship. They know how to win and credit to them.”

Bonar, who made 61 saves to help the Vees win 3-2 in triple overtime on Friday, said he had a lot of emotions.

“Losing like that, I mean, the last thing I wanted to do was lose to Vernon again on my way out here,” said Bonar, who will join the Princeton University Tigers in Division 1 college.

Bonar added that the difference Saturday from Friday was that Vernon worked very hard and he couldn’t make the saves he did the night before. If it was 2-1 for Vernon going into the third, Bonar felt the chances are good that they could tie.

“4-1 is a little too much to ask for from our boys, or from anybody for that matter,” he continued.

After both teams shook hands, the Vees skated to centre ice and raised their sticks to salute the crowd which gave them long proud ovations. As the players exited the ice, the veteran Vees and Bonar hung out near the bench for a few minutes.

“I’m always last off the ice,” said Bonar. “Tonight I figured it should be Denver who was hanging out on the ice before me, so was Filly (Filiou) so I figured they should go off after me. It’s going to be tough to leave that ice.”

Manderson said that he and the other guys just kind of wanted one last peak around.

“We will never get to do it again,” said Manderson, who added he’s thankful for the support they received from fans. Along with the year the Vees went to the Doyle Cup, Manderson really enjoyed the success this year, which included a team record 48, wins and 100 points.

“I played on two really good teams here and not many guys get to say they have won as much as I have here,” he said. “Our record was unbelievable. All we did was win. That’s fun. I feel really fortunate.”

For video coverage of Game 5 in Vernon, check www.pentictonwesternnews.com.

Penticton Vees netminder Sean Bonar and team athletic therapist Geoff Carter solemnly mark the end of the club’s BCHL season following a 4-1 loss to the Vernon Vipers Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

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