The Penticton Vees fell short of playing for the RBC Cup national junior A hockey championship after a double overtime loss to the Carleton Place Canadians on Saturday.
Jordan Larson was able to bury a rebound over the pad of outstretched goalie Hunter Miska after a Ryker Killins shot at 3:43 to win 2-1 at the PCU Centre in Portage la Prairie, Man. Miska, who finished with 38 saves, wasn’t able to make another save to deny the Canadians. During the Canadians celebrations, the Hockey Canada web stream of the game showed Miska bent over at the side boards, while Demico Hannoun was low on one knee as a third attempt to win his first national championship came up empty.
“It hurts for our players. We played our asses off,” said Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson shortly after the loss that afternoon. “I thought we had a lot of chances to make it 2-0 and it didn’t happen. They made a play, they are a great team. We scored a goal in the first overtime, unfortunate quick whistle. We have seen that before. It wasn’t intentional. It’s one of those things that happens. They were able to make the last play.”
The play Harbinson was referring to was Dakota Conroy’s shot from the slot area. The whistle was blown as Canadians goalie Guillaume Therien down on his knees had the puck slowly get past him. Therien finished with 36 saves.
After a scoreless first period, in which the Vees were edged 9-8 in shots, Tyson Jost gave the Vees a 1-0 lead in the second period. He was able to put away a rebound from a Connor Chartier shot. That lead lasted until two minutes remained in the period when Stephen Baylis picked off a pass from Gabe Bast and skated into the zone before beating Miska with a wrist shot high glove.
In the third period, the Canadians edged the Vees in shots 9-6, however neither could finish their chances. The Canadians had a glorious chance with an empty net but missed.
Baylis was the main threat for the Canadians in overtime, but he couldn’t solve Miska who came up big to keep the Vees.
Harbinson said led by their captains, “each guy left it out there.”
“Obviously we’re one of the youngest teams in junior hockey,” said Harbinson. “The reason we get to play basically until the last day was because of the work ethic, the type of character that we showed.
“Unfortunately the finale of the whole thing is tough to take,” continued Harbinson. “They are a veteran team, lost in overtime in the national championship game a year ago. They are a good hockey team.”
The penalty kill for both teams was excellent as the Canadians killed off four Vees power-plays, while the Vees killed off all five Canadian power-plays.
Patrick Sexton was named the Vees’ player of the game, while Larson, the overtime hero, got it for the Canadians.
The Canadians will play the winner between the Portage Terriers and Melfort Mustangs on Sunday at 5 p.m. PST.