Discipline hurts Vees against Warriors

Penticton Vees have their 13-game win streak snapped against West Kelowna at home

West Kelowna Warriors forward Liam Blackburn battles Penticton Vees Connor Russell and Cody DePourcq for the puck in front of Vees netminder Hunter Miska and defender Miles Gendron as Warriors Kyle Marino watches during the first period of the Nov. 5 B.C. Hockey League match at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Warriors scored a pair of third-period goals to edge the hosts 3-2 and snap the 13-game Penticton win streak.

As the saying goes, you win some, you lose some. Unless you are the Penticton Vees, in which case the winning part is much more prominent.

Riding a 13-game undefeated streak in the BCHL, discipline got the Vees in trouble against the West Kelowna Warriors who snapped the streak defeating them 3-2.

“I thought we took penalties at the end of each of the periods that were at critical times,” said Vees head coach Fred Harbinson. “We are probably the least penalized team in the league and it is not characteristic of us. The guys know it and I am not concerned. We are are going to lose some hockey games. Those penalties gave the Warriors the momentum heading into the third period and you know what? We have bitten them late in the game enough times throughout the years and tonight it was their turn.”

Wicked Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre was looking to be just that. Top two teams in the Interior Division, best goaltender, top scorer and two potent offences. Then the teams hit the ice.

A yawner of a first period with a distinct lack of scoring opportunities saw just the opposite in the second. Lewis Zerter-Gossage aggressively charged to the net with a Warriors defenceman hanging off his back and a trailing Patrick Newell buried the rebound. That was followed by a Warriors goal that was lifted in by Brayden Geisinger off a huge rebound Hunter Miska gave up to the slot, which was passed over by two Vees defencemen.

Gone was the ho-hum hockey in the first. When the ooh’s and ahh’s from the crowd did finally come, Vees forward Riley Alferd seemed not too far behind. Commotion in front of the Warriors goalie, Alferd was there.

Turnovers to start rushes for the Vees, Alferd. Penalty kill, Alferd. Who is that pesky blue jersey in the middle of a five-man Warriors huddle? Alferd, drawing a penalty against the division rivals to boot.

That powerplay resulted in a slick give-and-go that Demico Hannoun finished, putting the Vees up 2-1. Alferd? Well, he was on the bench cheering. No hugs from teammates, no fans cheering his name called over the loudspeaker, no matter.

“That is just the way it goes sometimes,” shrugged Alferd, who added his concerns lie more with getting his team in the win column than any accolades. “Our line has been facing off against some of the top in the league but just because we play hard in the defensive end doesn’t mean we can’t play just as hard in the other end and score. I want to do it all, I mean why not?”

Despite the loss, and being shutout on the scoresheet to end his four-game point streak, Alferd still earned himself the third star of the game.

“We joke around that Riley has some of the best edges in the BCHL. He is so strong on his feet and sometimes he will break out a move with his hands that is just jaw-dropping. Defensively he is really good too and knows where you are on the ice to get the puck to you,” said linemate Jack Ramsey, who is the winger along with Matthew Serratore on the line.

Collectively the Vees, who were playing with a shortened roster, managed to keep the league top goal scorer Liam Blackburn at bay. But, as the Vees coach said, discipline at critical times dashed hopes of continuing their win streak.

A 10-minute misconduct issued to Hannoun for a hit to the head in the second period carried over into the third frame and led to Warriors Jonathan Desbiens scoring the game-winner with less than five minutes left.

A scramble at the end of the game with the Vees goalie pulled couldn’t match the timely saves of Warriors netminder Andy Desautels who wouldn’t let anything by him.

The Vees will continue to play short-handed on the weekend. Teen standouts Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro are skating for Canada at the World U17 Championship in Ontario and co-captain Patrick Sexton was not available Wednesday due to a family issue.

However, he is expected to join the team for a three-game road trip to face Island Division teams this weekend.

“We had basically three lines tonight and one of our keys is that discipline would be critical when we have five guys out of the lineup,” said Harbinson. “This is a tough road trip for us playing four games in five days including tonight. It will be a tough task but we will be up for it.”

Vees notes: Forward Mitch Newsome has committed to Michigan Tech University for the fall of 2016 the team announced. The 17-year-old off to a good start in his rookie campaign with two goals and 12 points in 17 games. His 10 assists is fourth best on the team. The Surrey product came to the Vees via the Valley West Hawks of the BC Major Midget League. Newsome is the 13th committed player on the Vees roster and joins teammate Demico Hannoun as a future Huskies … The Vees also shored up their forward depth by signing Zach Funk ahead of their Island Division road trip this weekend. Funk, 18, is in his third BCHL season. The Nanaimo product was with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs for parts of three seasons, accumulating 15 goals and 35 points in 119 games. Known as an energy forward, Funk had a career high 10 goals in 58 games. Funk will wear number 67 and make his Vees debut Friday night when they face the Victoria Grizzlies at the ‘Q’ centre … Dante Fabbro and Team Canada Red lost to Russia 4-1 in the World U17 Hockey Challenge, while Tyson Jost and Team Canada White lost to Sweden 2-0 on Thursday. Both Canadian teams face each other today at 4 p.m. PST in the placement game. The game can be watched online at http://www.hockeycanada.ca

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