Two missed breakaways, three shots rung off the post and an arena in Trail that continues to haunt the Penticton Vees.
It all added up to a 4-3 loss by the Vees to the Smoke Eaters on Wednesday.
“In Trail we have had some issues over the years,” said Vees coach and general manager Fred Harbinson.
Out of the three games at Cominco last season, the Vees squeaked out one win in overtime and suffered two losses — being outscored 11-5. But, like any good horror movie, there are a number of baffling sequels.
“We have a whole new team and last night there is really no excuse for it. We probably should have been up two or three to nothing after the first period. We outshot them, missed two breakaways and hit the crossbar three times in the third period. We just couldn’t get the puck luck that we needed,” said Harbinson.
Tied 2-2 after the first frame with a pair of goals from Connor Reilly, the Smokies reclaimed the lead when Adam Boytinck’s wrist shot eluded Vees goalie Chad Katunar on his glove side. Katunar was sent to the bench to be replaced by Mike Garteig. The Smoke Eaters extended their lead on their second power-play goal of the night, much to the chagrin of Harbinson, who only days before praised the Vees for evading the refs whistle.
“The only thing I would be disappointed in with our guys is we got frustrated and when that happened we took some penalties that we don’t usually do,” said Harbinson, whose Vees offered the Smokies eight power-play opportunities.
The defeat in Trail also spoiled the return of former Smokies player and now Vees forward, Travis St. Denis; although, he did manage to score the Vees third goal of the night deflecting a shot into the back of the net.
With 40 seconds remaining in the game, the Vees pulled their goalie and put out their top line of St. Denis, Mario Lucia and Reilly to take the faceoff in the Smokies end. The Vees were out-jostled at the puck drop and the Smokies cleared the zone. St. Denis sprinted back with the puck across the blueline, drawing a hooking penalty to Smokies defenseman Rajan Sidhu, but at the same time getting sent to the box himself for diving, killing their chance to tie.
A busy three-game schedule is what the Vees will be looking at this weekend, including a rematch with the Vernon Vipers on the road — a team that is gunning for payback after losing to the Vees last weekend.
“All the games against Penticton are the ones you circle on the calendar. It’s a chance to redeem ourselves and a chance to show we can beat the top teams in the league,” said Vipers assistant coach Chris Shaw.
On Saturday, the Vees are back at the SOEC to play the Cowichan Valley Capitals for the first and only time of the season. Game time is at 7 p.m. Then, on Sunday, the Vees host the Surrey Eagles at 2 p.m.
Vote for your favourite all-time BCHL player and the top 50 players will be revealed at the BCHL Celebration Weekend on Nov. 25.
Visit www.bchl.ca under the History tab.