The writing was in the stands of the South Okanagan Events Centre on Friday.
It was clear that there wasn’t 4,000-plus fans watching the Penticton Vees take on the Salmon Arm SilverBacks during the Christmas Charity Challenge. While the Vees had their chances to beat the SilverBacks, they had to settle for a 2-2 result. And while the community wasn’t able to fully deliver so charities could cash in on $34,500 a saviour rose to the occasion.
Shortly after the announced attendance of 3,173 busted through the speakers of the SOEC, it was announced that Peters Brothers Construction purchased the remaining 837 tickets.
“That was amazing,” said organizer Duane Jordan, owner of the Pasta Factory and the Best Damn Sports Bar and Grill of the generous move by Peters Brothers Construction. “An amazing gesture by a community minded individual in Dave Kampe and business.”
Peters Brothers Construction couldn’t be reached for comment, but their effort to support the cause was good news for those who helped support the cause and the Salvation Army Food Bank with non-perishable food donations.
Over a dozen charities benefited by the Christmas Charity Challenge and six truck loads of food will occupy space on the shelves of the foodbank.
Fans were treated to an exciting game. Following Kyle Mountain’s tying goal at 12:08 of the second period, action intensified near the end of the third. In the overtime, the SilverBacks outshot the Vees 12-5 but both teams had equal opportunity to score. However, Vees goalie Joel Rumpel, named the games first star and SilverBacks netminder Kris Moore, the third star, had no intentions of being tagged the loser.
Vees captain Derik Johnson, who took two penalties, including a crucial one for slashing early in the first overtime, said they played well.
“For a lot of guys that’s the first time they have played in front of that many people,” said Johnson. “Any time you play in front of 3,000 people that’s fun and exciting. There was energy in the building and you can tell when you hit a guy and people were standing up cheering. I mean that’s fun. That’s why you play the game. We could definitely feed off the crowd and we had a lot of fun tonight. I know everyone in the room really enjoyed it.”
Both sides played with energy and there was no lacking in physical play or opportunities.
Johnson had a chance in overtime to convert a rebound off of Mark MacMillan’s shot. After the puck hit his shoulder, Johnson couldn’t finish on the doorstep of the net.
“I wish I could have put that one home,” he said. “That would have been quite the ending.”
The only thing Johnson wasn’t thrilled with was the number of penalties, six given to the Vees and one to Salmon Arm, in the game.
“The officiating was probably the worst I have ever seen in this league,” said the emotional Vees defenceman. “It’s embarrassing. We play hard for 70 minutes and we get two chincy calls, one with five minutes left and one right at the start of overtime.”
Today the Vees are in Westside to take on the Warriors. Vees forward Joey Holka said there’s confidence in the room they can defeat the home team following back-to-back losses.
“We’ve lost the last couple of games against them, but before that I think we had a lot of success in their building,” said Holka, who has 13 goals in 29 games. “It will be a good test to go in there against a team that has lost their last two. They are going to be hungry for sure.”
Monday’s practiced had a focus on the Vees battling in their end as well as continued work on defensive coverage.
“We know that they are obviously not going to be very happy to be coming off two straight losses to Merritt,” said Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson. “Their coach had made comments that they had played very soft against the Centennials and we know that’s not going to be the case against us in their building.”
With a win, the Vees can pull one point ahead of Vernon for first place in the Interior Conference.
It’s no secret who Alora Mahar’s favourite Vee is as she holds up a sign cheering on Kyle Mountain at the Charity Challenge game last friday, which brought more than 3,000 fans to the arena to watch the Vees take on Salmon Arm.