Penticton Lakers coach Robert Dirk knows a win slipped away.
The Lakers pushed the Kamloops Storm, the top team in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, to double overtime only to lose 4-3. The Lakers are now 9-4-0-2.
“We played good enough to win,” said Dirk. “When you get into three-on-three hockey, it’s up and down. Each team is going to have its chances to score. They capitalized on theirs and we didn’t. We had chances late on the power play.”
Karan Toor took a feed from Blake Culbert on a two-on-one and trickled one past Lakers goalie Jessie Gordichuk, who turned aside 33 of 37 shots. Dirk was happy to see Kale Erickson knot the game at three with less than a minute to go from a bad angle. However, the Lakers were unable to use the remaining power play time to sew up the win. The Lakers went two-for-nine on the power play, but weren’t dangerous while up two players. In their last four games, the Lakers power play has gone five-for-35.
“We haven’t worked on the five-on-three, that’s something that is coming,” said Dirk. “I’m not too worried about it. We competed against the No. 1 team in the league. They knew they were in a hockey game. I think they know they got lucky to get out of here with two points.”
The Storm, now undefeated in its last 10 games, dodged a bullet when the Lakers celebrated what they thought was the winning goal they scored late in the third period on the power play. The official waved it off because of a delayed high sticking penalty against the Storm, who had brief possession before the Lakers buried the puck.
Colten DeFrias, third in league scoring, got the Storm on the board first. Dylan Sahara tied it for the Lakers six minutes later when his point shot found a hole in Lyndon Stanwood. Shortly after that goal, Daylan Robertson gave the Lakers a 2-1 lead, which they took into the second period. Daniel Buchanan tied things at two. In the third period, both teams traded goals, but the Lakers didn’t show much urgency until Brett Dallen gave the Storm a 3-2 lead.
Dirk agreed that his team didn’t show much energy until that goal, but pointed out that on two of the Storm’s goals, they had full possession in their defensive zone.
“We just have to make better decisions and better plays with the puck,” he said. “We take away those two mistakes, we win the game 2-1, 3-1.”
Lakers captain JR Krolik felt his team played well.
“We’re here to prove ourselves,” he said. “We weren’t that good last year, but we’re quite a bit better this season.”
The positives Krolik saw are that the Lakers used their speed and got shots off in small areas.
“We have done something a lot of teams wish they can do,” said Dirk of how his team pushed the Storm, which has lost once in regulation and twice in overtime. “We feel and are expecting to get better. How much better are they going to get? We expect to be a much better hockey club in the second half than we are in the first half.”
The Lakers next play the Grand Forks Border Bruins at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Sunday at 2 p.m. Penticton’s Cole Buckley could be in goal for the Border Bruins as the team acquired him from the Revelstoke Grizzlies on Wednesday.