The Penticton Vees just weren’t good enough in the eyes of coach-general manager Fred Harbinson.
The Vees bench boss watched as his team dropped a 5-1 decision at the hands of the Merritt Centennials at Nicola Valley Arena Wednesday night.
“We made way too many errors that ended up costing us,” Harbinson told the Merritt Herald. “We can make any excuses we want about all the guys that are gone (to the World Junior A Challenge), but the guys that were here made way too many errors.”
The Vees used nine forwards including affiliate players Sam Binet and Tak Anholt. The Vees were also without forward Jack Ramsey, who sustained an upper body injury against Chilliwack on Sunday.
The Vees outshot the Centennials 13-6 in the first period, then were edged by the Centennials 13-12 in the second and outshot them 34-27 overall. Harbinson said Jonah Imoo was good, but his group also lacked finish.
“He’s a good goaltender,” said Harbinson. “We couldn’t buy (a goal) after the first one. It’s not always about how many shots, but the quality of the shots.”
The Centennials opened the scoring thanks to Cole Chorney on the power play, then Cole Grannary made it 2-0 early in the second. Grannary took advantage of a turnover just inside the Vees blue line, made a deke move and buried his backhand over Barry’s glove and off both posts.
Dakota Conroy chipped into that lead on the power play. From the slot, Conroy finished off a centering feed from Connor Chartier. The Centennials regained their two-goal cushion on the power play in the last minute.
Harbinson agreed that special teams were a factor as the Centennials went two-for-six on the power play, while the Vees went one-for-four.
“Yeah, we took a horrendous penalty at the end of the second period,” said Harbinson. “To me, that cost us the game.”
In the third period, Grannary and Sam Johnson beat Barry two more times to cement the victory.
Following a day off Thursday, the Vees host the West Kelowna Warriors Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in their final home game of 2014. The game starts at 7 p.m.
–written with files from Fraser Rodgers.
Vees notes: Hockey Canada’s website reported that Blade Mann-Dixon (Antigonish, N.S./Valley, MHL) was the story Wednesday night, making 38 saves to lead Canada East past Canada West 4-2, and into the semifinals at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge. Vees defenceman Dante Fabbro scored his first goal of the tournament to even the game at two. After three games, Tyson Jost led Canada West in scoring with two goals and three points, while Gabe Bast has two points, all goals. Demico Hannoun has one assist in three games. Canada West will play Switzerland for fifth-place Friday at 1:30 p.m. PST. The game can be watched on Hockey Canada’s website.