It wasn't the start the Vernon Vipers were looking for as they opened the RBC Cup on home ice Saturday night.
The Vipers squandered a 1-0 second period lead eventually falling 3-2 to the eastern champion Carleton Place Canadians before a near sell out at Kal Tire Place.
Vinny Post scored the game winner snapping a 2-2 tie at 15:32 of the final period.
"It's tough obviously," said Vipers coach Jason Williamson.
"We wanted to get this tournament started on the right foot. Good hockey game, competitive...we have to put it behind us right away."
The game was physical - even nasty at certain points as both teams attempted to impose their will physically throughout the game.
It was that physical play that created the game's turning point according to Williamson.
With the game tied 1-1 defenceman Josh Bryan was assessed a five minute major after he laid out Carleton Place forward Anthony Latina with a thunderous check at centre ice.
After a lengthy conference, the officials ruled the hit was late and assessed the major for interference and a game misconduct.
"They just said it was late. I don't want to comment too much on it...because of the injury they gave it a five minute major," said Williamson.
"I didn't think it was(late), not one bit."
Adam Lloyd picked the top corner short side on the power-play to give the Canadians their first lead of the game.
The lead didn't last long as Demico Hannoun tied it two minutes later on a two-on-one with the Vipers still shorthanded.
It was Vernon's second shorthanded goal of the game.
Colton Sparrow opened the scoring six minutes into the second period when his wrist shot from the left circle beat Canadian goaltender Guillaume Therien to the far side.
The goal looked like it might stand up as both goaltenders looked sharp through 40 minutes, especially Vipers netminder Austin Smith who made three or four great stops to keep Carleton Place off the scoreboard.
The Canadians would tie it early in the third when Dylan Gareau took a pass in the right faceoff circle with his back to the net. He turned and fired in one motion beating a startled Smith.
Saturday's game was the first for the Vipers since they lost the BCHL final to the Coquitlam Express back on April 15.
Williamson said the layoff showed at times.
"It's going to get better (five-on-five). I think that's the part of our game where the rust definitely showed.
We didn't create enough and we were trying to be too cute at times. I was stressing to the guys that we need to be simpler and get more pucks to the net."
On the other side of the ice Carleton Place coach Jason Clark called Saturday's win a character win.
"I thought we were very good five-on-five but our power-play was less than desirable tonight," said Clark.
"We end up scoring a goal but we gave up two shorthanded goals. For us to be able to come back from giving up two shorthanded goals in one game proves what type of character our team has."
Carleton Place lost two players to injury.
Latina didn't return after the centre ice hit in the third while defenceman Rowan Savidant had to be helped off the ice after taking a hard hit into the glass in the first period.
"I thought the five minute major was just a cheap shot - that kind of stuff doesn't belong in our game at all," said Clark.
"The first one was just a clean check. That seamless glass is not good for players. The rink is beautiful but the NHL got rid of the seamless glass for a reason - it's like hitting concrete. His head went right into the glass and there's no give."
Neither team was effective with the man advantage. Vernon went 0-4 while Carleton Place was 1-7.
Saturday's other game saw the Dauphin Kings edge Toronto 2-1.
The Vipers are off until Monday when they take on the western champion Yorkton Terriers in almost a must win game for the Vipers.
Sunday Yorkton play their opening game against Toronto while Carleton Place get back at it against Dauphin.