The Penticton Vees were the better team over the final 50 minutes of Saturday’s game against the Trail Smoke Eaters, but a non-call on a play at the Penticton net cost the Vees in a 3-2 loss.
With minutes to go in a 2-2 game, Vees goalie was bumped twice in his crease, the second time knocking his stick out of his hand and allowing the Smoke Eaters to poke in a third goal.
The goal caused major frustration on the Vees bench and resulted in coach/general manager Fred Harbinson being ejected from the game.
The opening 10 minutes were especially forgettable for the Vees. Chase Stevenson took advantage of a pinching Vees defenceman and raced towards Jack LaFontaine on a partial break. Stevenson was able to pull the puck to his backhand and lift it over LaFontaine’s glove just 1:36 into the game.
Four minutes later Kenny Johnson was called for tripping in the neutral zone, and just 19 seconds into the power play Diarmud Dimurro’s wrist shot from the slot beat LaFontaine to put the Vees at a 2-0 5:48 into the game.
The Vees took penalties nearly back-to-back following the goal. The first was Bowes for unsportsmanlike conduct and 30 seconds after he left the box, Cole Shepard for a blow to the head minor against goaltender Adam Marcoux. Shepard was given two and 10, keeping him in the box for nearly the remainder of the period.
As soon as the puck dropped in the second period, the Vees looked like a completely different team. Pushing the pace, they would outshoot the Smoke Eaters 22-12 over the final 40 minutes.
Bowes got the Vees on the board six minutes into the period, taking a pass from Eric Linell who was below the goal line and dropping to one knee to hammer a shot into the top corner.
Shepard then scored on a similar play two and a half minutes later, taking a feed from Andre Ghantous and beating Marcoux five-hole from the slot to even the game 8:31 into the second period.
With the game still tied into the third period, controversy struck. Trail was pressuring in the Vees zone before Stevenson carried it down the wing and to the net. LaFontaine was bumped in the crease and turned around.
After recovering, LaFontaine made a save off a shot from the slot and reached out to try and cover the rebound. He was bumped for a second time, knocking his stick out of his hand, and the puck popped loose to Dimurro who scored his second of the game.
This came with 5:36 remaining in regulation.
The Vees were unable to find the tying goal for a second time, dropping yet another frustrating game in which they may have felt they deserved a better fate.
The Vees now prepare for Wednesday’s home game against Vernon, in which they can expect more bodies in the lineup. The three players will return from the World Junior A Challenge and Lukas Sillinger has served his four-game suspension.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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