Double disappointment for Vees

Merritt downs Penticton in 3-2 in OT heartbreaker on Wednesday

Tthe Vees Brad McClure is tripped up by Centennial Shane Poulson in the first period on Wednesday.

Blowing a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 in double overtime to the Merritt Centennials was tough to swallow for the Penticton Vees.

At 3:53 of the second overtime period, Shane Poulsen found a hole in Hunter Miska as he fired a shot from the high slot. As the Centennials were in celebration, the Vees quickly left the ice for their dressing room.

“They are all tough,” said Vees coach Fred Harbinson, when asked if it was a tough loss to deal with.

Harbinson liked the effort his players put forward Wednesday night in the South Okanagan Events Centre in front of crowd of 1,463. He said it was two good teams battling.

“They got two power play goals and we didn’t score on the power play,” said Harbinson, whose team went 0-for-4, while the Centennials were 2-for-5.

“They ended up with the momentum in the overtime getting another call to go their way.”

Poulsen also scored the equalizer for the Centennials midway through the second period on a power play. The Centennials cut the Vees lead to 2-1 on a goal by James Neil with 1:19 remaining in the second period.

Outshooting the Centennials 35-26 after three periods, the Vees had their chances for more goals. In the second period, defenceman Paul Stoykewych hit the cross-bar. Anthony Conti, who scored the Vees’ second goal, couldn’t get his stick on the puck while there was an opening available at the side of the net.

Travis Blanleil, who scored the game’s first goal, also had one disallowed.

“The referee said that he could not see the puck go in from where he was,” said Blanleil. “Even the goal judge was saying that it was in.”

With 0.3 seconds left in the game, Vees rookie Jack Ramsey was assessed a slashing penalty. The Vees killed that off. During the second overtime, Cody DePourcq sent Blanleil off for what was the Vees’ best scoring chance. The hard back-checking of a Centennials player prevented Blanleil from being the hero. Blanleil said he wasn’t sure if the play warranted a penalty shot.

“It happened pretty fast,” he said. “I didn’t really see if he took me down. “I was just trying to get away from the defender that was on my back. I ended up getting taken down before I could get there.”

Harbinson and Miska were both happy with the way he played in making 29 saves.

“The second goal was deflected, tough deflection,” said Harbinson. “The first two he couldn’t stop.”

Miska said he went down into the butterfly and with someone screening him, he couldn’t see the puck.

“They just got it between my lower blocker,” he said.

The Vees next host the West Kelowna Warriors Friday at 7 p.m. in the SOEC.

Vees notes:

Cam Amantea has committed to the University of Anchorage-Alaska Seawolves.

Amantea settled on his hockey future on Thanksgiving morning and said it was a good way to celebrate the day with his family. The Calgary product made his decision based on the coaching staff, who made him feel welcome.

“They said I could fit in there right away,” said Amantea, who joins Anthony Conti and Olivier Mantha with the Seawolves. “From what I have heard through some of my buddies and through Fred (Harbinson, the Vees coach-GM) that it’s a great place to play. It’s a pretty big city right on the water. I think it will be a good experience.”

Amantea said that having Conti and Mantha there did play a factor into his decision. Amantea isn’t sure if he will go next season. He’s excited by the new coaching staff in place.

“They are trying to change the program around,” he said.

Hockey Canada released its Canada West camp roster for the World Junior A Challenge. Among the invitees are Vees defenceman Brett Beauvais, Alexandre Coulombe and Paul Stoykewych. The selection camp, scheduled for Oct. 26 to 30, will be held at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. Sixty-six players will be divided into four teams – Black, Gold, Red and White – and will play six intrasquad games, in addition to daily practices.