Watching the Penticton Vees bus swipe a snowplow and end up in a ditch is one of Derik Johnson’s more interesting road trips.
The incident happened near Kamloops as the Vees were heading to Quesnel for Game 3 of their series with the Millionaires. The Vees captain insists it was nothing too bad and that it was blown a little out of proportion. Some of Johnson’s teammates were tweeting about it on play-by-play commentator Ryan Pinder’s Twitter account.
“A couple of us were awake for the whole thing,” said Johnson, who while playing for the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders, had a flat tire while traveling to Waterloo. “It was pretty interesting because for 10 or 15 seconds we could see the whole thing happen. It was pretty funny. Ambulance and city workers came. They helped get us out of the ditch.”
Arriving in Kamloops, the Vees changed buses and continued their journey arriving in Quesnel at approximately 5:45 p.m. The game was pushed back to 7:30 p.m. from its 7 p.m. start.
Then they were ready for business and managed to win 4-3 in overtime.
“I didn’t think it was much different than the other two games,” said Johnson, referring to the 5-1 wins in Games 1 and 2. “It (the arena) just really levels the playing field when you play in these small rinks. I think it’s something that the league has got to take a look at some time in the near future. I think it really takes a lot of the skill out of the game.”
Trailing by a goal with 16 seconds remaining in the third, a timeout by Penticton Vees coach Fred Harbinson couldn’t have come at a better time.
While the Vees never had a lead against the Quesnel Millionaires through most of Game 3, they picked the perfect moment to set it up. With their cage empty, Kyle Mountain won a draw back to Joey Laleggia, whose point shot was stopped. However, Logan Johnston was there to jam in the rebound and silence a crowd of 365 fans in the Twin Arenas, tying the game with just eleven seconds to play. In overtime, Joey Holka made a stunning play to win the game as he split a pair of defenders and scored the game-winner from his belly, sending the Vees bench into an eruption of cheers as the club took a three-game lead in the series.
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson felt his team played strong. Results from Tuesday’s game were not available at press time. However, Harbinson said his team didn’t need to improve on anything from Game 3.
“We just need to keep moving our feet, making plays and play hard,” said Harbinson. “Get traffic at the net and eliminate their chances.”
The Vees only had a two-shot edge after the first period, then opened the floodgates winning the shot category 20-4 and in the third 13-8.
If necessary, Game 5 will be played on Thursday at the SOEC. As of Tuesday, the Salmon Arm SilverBacks led the Merritt Centennials 3-0, the Trail Smoke Eaters had a 2-1 edge on the Westside Warriors. In the Coastal Conference, the Surrey Eagles lead the Coquitlam Express 3-0, the Langley Chiefs lead the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 3-0 and the Victoria Grizzlies have a 2-1 edge on the Nanaimo Clippers.