Joel Rumpel was choked up following a 4-2 loss to the Salmon Arm SilverBacks on Monday.
The top goaltender for the Penticton Vees turned aside 26 shots, including 16 in the second period, as his team was eliminated from the BCHL’s second round in five games.
“I don’t know it’s kind of a tough one to comprehend right now,” said an emotional Rumpel when asked what was going through his mind. “The team played great four games in a row. Seems like we just missed a few bounces and they got a few bounces.”
The SilverBacks got a good bounce six minutes in that silenced the crowd of 1,854. A puck fired towards Rumpel went over the net, bounced off the glass and dropped back in front of Rumpel, who couldn’t locate the puck. Devin Muller did and it was 1-0. At roughly the same time in the second period, Morgan Zulinick gave the SilverBacks a 2-0 lead. While the SilverBacks were able to make the Vees pay on their good opportunities, the home side either missed the net or Kris Moore came up big, again.
Rumpel, who turned 20 on Monday, was unable to assess his performance.
“It’s tough when the other guy is making all the saves and I have all the respect for Moore (28 saves),” said the Swift Current, Sask., native. “He had a great series. Definitely won it for his team.”
Nearly three minutes after the 2-0 goal, Joey Holka deflected a Troy Stecher shot to put the Vees on the board.
In the third period, Knowles, scored the back breaker. With the puck sliding along the rim of the boards, David Killip beat a Vee to the puck and fed him in the slot.
“I didn’t even think about it. I just hit it and it got by him,” said Knowles.
Fourteen seconds after that goal, the Vees made a costly turnover in their zone when a passing attempt through the middle was picked off by Jarryd Ten Vaanholt. Just like that 4-1. SilverBacks coach Tim Kehler said that goal was the result of great pressure. Vees forward Logan Johnston scored his third goal of the series off the faceoff. The 4-2 gave the Vees a lift but they couldn’t find net.
“I’m really satisfied with our effort tonight,” said Kehler. “I thought our compete level was at its best of all the five games. I thought our defensive play was outstanding.”
While the result wasn’t what the Vees were hoping for, Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said he is proud of his players.
“I thought they battled right to the end,” said Harbinson. “I don’t think we lost a series tonight. I think it was unfortunate that we got behind in the series, those first three games. The saves that Moore made is the best goaltending performances I’ve seen over a three-game period in my 17 years of coaching.”
Harbinson talked about his players staying positive despite the first goal and added they became a little nervous. That could explain the the missed chances.
“We didn’t have much room for error,” said Harbinson. “The first half of the period we are all over them and then bang off the glass and in. It’s almost a little too much of the same. The problem is, is they are still young men and it’s still hard to push through. You see professional athletes have trouble with those situations. You have to give credit to Salmon Arm. They found ways to be very opportunistic in the series. If we made two mistakes, they found a way to get two goals.”
The effort of the Vees during the night was evident and captain Derik Johnson felt his teammates played outstanding.
“When we look back on it in a couple weeks, we ran into a hot goaltender and he was able to steal a couple of games,” said Johnson. “They have some great players. They are very well coached. They came ready to play tonight.”