Boos rained down from the crowd at the South Okanagan Events Centre Friday.
The Penticton Vees dropped the opening game of the BCHL’s Interior Division Final, 3-2 to the Vernon Vipers in front of 3,118 fans. The Vees and their fans thought they had the equalizer when Nicholas Jones knocked the puck from mid air past Darion Hanson with 34 seconds remaining in regulation while on the power play. After meeting at centre ice and agreeing the goal should not count, the officials gave Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson an explanation.
“He said he didn’t know which guy knocked it out of the air,” said Harbinson. “It was Jones that knocked it out of mid air and he was on his knees. It’s pretty tough to have his stick over the cross bar if he is on his knees and a ways outside of the net. I thought within one of the four (officials) would have been able to figure it out. They couldn’t even tell me who knocked it out of mid air. I’m not sure how they really knew that it was over the cross bar.”
Despite outshooting the Vipers 16-10 in the final frame, and 38-24 overall, the Vees couldn’t solve Hanson. They had moments of good pressure and chances.
“I thought we played well. It was a good game,” said Harbinson. “You give up two goals on the first three shots, unfortunately and we kept pushing back and their winning goal deflects off the ref. It was an unfortunate bounce.”
Austin Adamson netted the winner 1:45 into the third period. Jesse Lansdell found him headed towards the crease when he fed him the puck and tapped the puck in.
Adamson said it was huge for them to steal home ice.
“We know this team is going to come out hard. They are a good team, but it’s going to be a long series, we know that,” said Adamson. “We wanted to come in here and try to steal at least one. Hopefully tomorrow too.”
Taylor Ward scored in the second period and had the Vees head into the dressing room squared at two. After taking a pass from Gabe Bast, Ward skated towards the goal and fired a wrist shot from the high faceoff circle to beat Hanson blocker side at 5:46 on the power play.
The Vees outshot the Vipers in the opening period 12-5, yet trailed 2-1 after one. The Vipers opened the scoring when Steven Jandric beat Robson on a wrap around play. The Vees got the equalizer on a play started by Ty Amonte, who dished the puck to Cruikshank who found Bast near the point. Bast beat Hanson with a slapshot. The Vipers retook the lead when Cameron Trott one-timed a Chris Jandric feed high glove on Robson on the power play.
With coach Mark Ferner stressing to get pucks deep, Adamson said he felt they did that, except for the second period.
“Near the end we got back to it. I think it helped us get the win tonight,” he said.
Both power plays went one-for-three. Hanson was named first star for his 36-save performance, while Bast was named the second star, collecting two points and Steve Jandric of the Vipers was the third star.
Game two is at the South Okanagan Events Centre at 6 p.m.
Video below courtesy of Jayson Moonie.