The boo birds were singing in the South Okanagan Events Centre Monday night.
A crowd of 3,821 expressed loudly their displeasure with the officiating which they felt cost the Penticton Vees the B.C. Hockey League’s Fred Page Cup in a 3-2 overtime loss. Fans threw debris on the ice and towards the Chilliwack Chiefs. Another group of fans waited for the refs as they exited the ice.
“We didn’t lose the game because of the refs, but they were obviously sub par with a couple of their calls,” said Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson.
When it came to the hooking infraction handed to affiliate player Cassidy Bowes, Harbinson said he hadn’t seen the video on it yet.
“The only thing I would say is they had an opportunity, they gave us a tug when we were on the shorthanded side, it would have been an easy way for them to even things up, but their sixth power play I guess ends up doing it for them,” said Harbinson. “It’s a tough way for the boys to lose.”
The Chiefs went 1-for-4 on the power play, while the Vees were 0-for-2.
Chiefs defenceman Carver Watson forced Game 7, to be played in Chilliwack Tuesday night, when he scored on the power play. Ben Fanjoy and and Jordan Kawaguchi collected assists. Chiefs forward Will Calverley said the overtime was stressful.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried. It was a lot of fun playing through that,” he said. “We have done it all year. This one obvioiusly a little more stresfull. A little bigger picture. We had the mindset that we were able to do it.”
Harbinson said it was disappointing, especially having to go to overtime after having a 2-0 lead. He didn’t feel the players sat back as they gave up eight shots, while getting seven of their own.
“Unfortunately they made two plays on the wall and we paid for it,” he said.
The Chiefs forced overtime when when captain Jordan Kawaguchi collected his 24th assist of the post season spotting Kohen Olischefski with 5:25 remaining and beating Vees goalie Mat Robson high glove. The Vees starter was beat in nearly the identical spot 2:21 into the final frame when defenceman Davis Bunz was left alone in the slot to put the Chiefs within a goal.
Later in the period, Vees forward Owen Sillinger had a good chance on Chiefs goalie Mark Sinclair, but his shot deflected off the goalie’s shoulder and over the glass. The Vees had an opportunity five minutes into the third to put the game away on the power play, but couldnt convert.
The Vees opened the scoring at 8:14 when Grant Cruikshank fired home a backhand shot high past Sinclair’s blocker. Cruikshank got his stick on Chris Klack’s rebound. He was found in the low slot by captain Nicholas Jones, who was at the side of the, spun and passed it to his linemate. It was the lone goal of the period, while Robson made 11 saves, especially two big ones on Olischefski and Linden Hora.
In the middle frame, things got heated when Powell Connor hammered Bowes. The two latter engaged in a wrestling match in the corner before being sent off for roughing. Vees fans didn’t like that the officials wouldn’t make certain calls in the Vees favour. Klack was sent off for hooking after a Chiefs player hurt himself trying to deliver a hard hit. Later, Taylor Sanheim was called for a blow to the head and received a 10-minute misconduct, which had the fans furious.
With less than three minutes remaining in the period, Sillinger and Bowes played give and go. It ended with Bowes making a beautiful saucer pass over a Chiefs defender and Sillinger banging the puck past Sinclair blocker side for a 2-0 lead.
Sinclair finished with 25 saves, while Robson had 27. Sillinger was named the first star, while Olischefski and Calverly earned the second and third stars, respectively.
“We haven’t done anything easy all year. We’re not some big, flashy high-powered team,” said Harbinson. “We’ve found a way to win games. Here we are going to a Game 7 in the BCHL final. We’re going to fight in their building . It would have been awesome for our crowd, for our fans that have been doing it all year long for us to win it on home ice.”