The chances were there, but the finish wasn’t for the Penticton GM Murray Vees bantam Tier 2 team.
The local hosts of the Remembrance Day Classic lost 4-2 to Vernon. With a minute remaining, Vees coach Rob McLaughlin pulled goalie Matts Bratton, who finished with 27 saves, for an extra attacker.
“I thought the boys competed really well,” said McLaughlin. “A couple of undisciplined penalties put us in the box. They got two power play goals. We fought our way back into the game. The boys never quit, which is a good thing and it was by far the fastest game in the whole tournament.”
Owning a 6-0 record in the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association, McLaughlin said his players haven’t faced a lot of adversity this season.
“Vernon came at us hard. They started the scoring off. Right away we rebounded back with a goal,” said the Vees coach, who received goals from Morey Babakaiff and Cairo Rogers. “They got two to go ahead 3-1. The last eight minutes, the pressure was in their zone. They iced it every opportunity they could. They barely got out at the end.”
McLaughlin said the best teams were in the final, but he also felt his team out-chanced the visitors.
“Vernon is a good team, they come to battle,” he said. “For us to play against Vernon Tier 1, it was good to play at that level. Very good coached team. Very physical, but clean game.”
The Vees opened the tournament with an 11-1 win over Cloverdale. Raphael Bassot, Josh Maser and Cairo Rogers led with two goals each. Billy Beecroft, Tavis Hamilton, Morey Babakaiff and Manny Bahniwal rounded out the scoring. Maser also added two assists. Liam McLaren and Lane French finished with three assists, while Babakaiff had two assists. In a 10-3 win over Alberni Valley, Josh Maser scored two goals and added an assist. Simon Snyman finished with two goals and four points. French, Tyler Maser, Bassot, Cairo and Babakaiff also scored. In their third game, the Vees shutout Spokane 9-0. Bratton made nine saves in the win. Bassot scored a hat-trick, while Babakaiff and Josh Maser, tallied twice. McLaren, and French rounded out the offence.
On Sunday, the Vees defeated the Calgary Royals 7-4 before losing to Vernon.