Photo: Tami Quanq
Chris Duclair denied on a power move in the third period.
The West Kelowna Warriors deserved better.
In a game they were easily the better team for more than two periods, they managed just a loser point in a 5-4 overtime defeat at the hands of the Coastal Conference leading Nanaimo Clippers.
But they deserved better. Even lady luck was on their side...until it wasn't.
Penalties late in the game with the Warriors clinging to a 3-2 lead gave the Clippers a lengthy two-man advantage.
They capitalized on both. Then a dubious call near the end of regulation with the game knotted at four gave the Clippers a four-on three advantage in the extra period.
They capitalized on that one as well.
The Warriors feel they deserved better.
They even had lady luck on their side. Trailing by multiple goals in the first period for the fifth game in a row, despite badly outplaying the Clippers, the Warriors clawed their way back.
After Jake Bernadet slashed his way through the slot to beat Aiden Campbell from the right circle, Chris Duclair died it, the recipient of one of the luckier bounces all season.
Duclair got the puck at the left point and slapped it toward the net. It hit a stick in the slot, changed direction then glanced off a body near the edge of the crease and found its way into the net with 9.9 seconds left.
Duclair gave the Warriors their first lead in five games just 30 seconds into the second. He intercepted a pass inside the Clippers blueline, played give and go with Michael Selandra, beat one defender before deking to his backhand for his 16th of the season.
Lady luck smiled on them again with 27.3 seconds left in the second when what the Clippers thought was the tying goal was waived off after the on ice officials huddled and determined the puck was directed in with a high stick.
That call came just seconds after Willyam Gendron was denied on a penalty shot after he was hauled down by Noah Laframboise.
It looked as if the lead might hold up, but late penalty trouble allowed the Clippers to score twice in a 90 second span to assume a 4-3 lead.
The, with under a minute to go on a later power play of their own and Cayden Hamming on the bench for an extra attacker, Rylee Hlusiak grabbed a rebound and backhanded his 19th to draw them even.
But Jake Hewitt, who had tied it in regulation on the power play, blasted a shot from the left point past Hamming 1:04 into the extra period to seal the victory.
"Our first 40 was a real good and that's even with us being down 2-0 to start. I thought we were playing good hockey but unfortunately we found ourselves behind," said assistant coach Josh Gorges.
"We clawed back and tied it, got an early one in the second and I thought we took control of the game through the second period."
Gorges said he though the guys tried to protect the lead in the third instead of just playing hockey.
"When you do that, you are sitting back and allowing them to come at you in waves. They start to build momentum, they start to feel good, they start to gain some confidence.
"I think that was the letdown for us tonight. We didn't continue to push forward."
Angelo Zol got the start Saturday but was pulled in favour of Hamming after allowing two goals on four shots. Hamming went the rest of the way, facing 33 shots over the final 53 minutes.
The Warriors peppered Campbell with 46 shots, 35 of those through the first 40 minutes.
They deserved better.
The single point, coupled with wins by Vernon in a shootout, Prince George and Wenatchee created a logjam in the Interior Conference.
The Warriors, Spruce Kings and Vipers all share fourth with 58 points, two behind third place Salmon Arm and just a single point up on seventh place Wenatchee.
Salmon Arm have three games left in the regular season, while the other four have just two to play.
The Warriors close out the regular season next weekend, hosting Merritt Friday and travelling to Salmon Arm Saturday.
Photo: Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography
The Penticton Vees picked up their 11th-straight win, shutting down their opponents, the Nanaimo Clippers 9-2, at the SOEC on Friday night.
The game was a rematch of last season’s Fred Page Cup Final, and the Vees came out strong, with four goals on 26 shots in the opening 20 minutes. Frank Djurasevic, Nick DeGraves, Josh Nadeau, and Aydar Suniev all scored in the first.
Suniev scored his second of the night early in the second period to put the Vees up 5-0.
Nanaimo’s Ethan Mistry responded to make it 5-1. Then Thomas Pichette and Bradly Nadeau scored to put the Vees up 7-1 after two periods.
Josh Nadeau scored his second of the game 26 seconds into the third period, putting Penticton up 8-1. He then scored his hat-trick goal with just under three minutes left in the final frame, putting the final score at 9-2
The Vees next game is on Saturday against Merritt, with puck drop at 6 p.m.
Photo: Wayne Moore
Starts are killing the West Kelowna Warriors.
It was same old story for the Warriors Friday night, falling behind 2-0 early, climbing back into it, then watching the opposition skate away to a victory - this time a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the visiting Cranbrook Bucks at Royal LePage Place.
Over the course of their five game losing streak, the Warriors have fallen behind by at least two goals in the opening period while being outscored 12-1 in the opening frame.
"We've changed things up, we've talked about it, we've looked at it and I thought we had a pretty good first period except for two catastrophic plays," said head coach Simon Ferguson.
Oh, those catastrophic plays, two giveaways that resulted in two point blank chances and a 2-0 deficit.
Noah Quinn was the recipient of the first just 32 seconds into the game. An attempted clearing pass went off a skate and deflected right to Quinn all alone in front of goaltender Angelo Zol.
He made no mistake to open the scoring.
Then, midway through the period Julian Frias stole the puck behind the Warriors net and centered for brother Donovan who made no mistake to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Between those, the Warriors had numerous chances to get on the board but Nathan Airey was air-tight in the Bucks net.
Brennan Nelson appeared to have half a net to shoot at when a puck found him at the edge of the crease but either a stick or Airey's arm got in the way.
The Bucks netmidner then got a toe on a close in chance from defenceman Landon Hilditch then stopped Nelson again on a wraparound chance.
The Warriors did get back into it with goals 51 seconds apart before the second period was two minutes old.
Taking advantage of a power play that carried over from the first, Isaiah Norlin sent a wrist shot from the mid point past a screened Airey to cut the deficit before Chris Duclair was the recipient of a turnover in the slot.
His quick shot beat Airey five hole to tie it.
But, as has been the case the last three games when the Warriors have clawed their way back to tie a game after a multi-goal deficit, they were unable to find the go ahead goal.
"I almost called a time out after we scored the goal to tie it up," said Ferguson.
"I don't know if any coach would do that but maybe I should have. You tie it up and you call a time out to reset so everyone get back to where they were.
"It seemed like we scored a goal and we're good again and we can do whatever we want and succeed. Then they pot four."
Luke Pfoh got the "here we go again" goal five minutes after the Warriors had tied it. Pfoh threw a puck toward the net that appeared to be sailing high, but it hit something in front and deflected past Zol.
The goal seemed to deflate the bench and the team's fragile psyche.
Two goals late in the second and one on a power play early in the third built the lead up to 6-2.
Ben MacDonald got one back on a power play midway through the third and moments later they hit a post that could have brought them to within two but, despite a better push in the final period, the Warriors were unable to climb any closer.
The Warriors fired 14 of their 29 shots during the hectic final period.
Defenceman Dylan Brooks, who has missed more than a dozen games due to injury returned the the lineup Friday.
Forward Nic Porchetta, playing his 150th BCHL game, took a turn on the blueline for the first two periods.
Friday's loss leaves the Warriors clinging to fourth in the Interior Conference, but now only two points from slipping into seventh.
The Warriors have 57 points, one better than Prince George and Vernon and two up on seventh place Wenatchee.
They will try and turn things around Saturday when the Coastal Division-leading Nanaimo Clippers come to town.
The Clippers will be smarting after losing 9-2 in a battle of division leaders in Penticton Friday.
Nanaimo is also reeling after learning Friday head coach and GM Colin Birkas has been suspended indefinitely pending an investigation following complaints filed under Hockey Canada's discipline and complaints policy.
The Penticton Vees Hockey Club opens the 2023 BCHL Playoffs the last Friday in March against the Trail Smoke Eaters in their best-of-seven Interior Conference Quarterfinal series.
While five games remain in their Regular Season schedule for the Vees, the team has been determined to play against the Smoke Eaters in the opening round of the BCHL Playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Penticton will have all eyes on them this year as the defending BCHL Fred Page Cup champions. That win claimed their 13th championship in team history last May, beating the Nanaimo Clippers in four games.
The Vees are hoping to become the BCHL’s first repeat winners since 2011.
The Chamberlain Property Group is once again the presenting sponsor of the Vees playoffs, starting with Game One on Friday, March 31, at the SOEC. All Vees’ home playoff games start at 7 p.m.
Interior Conference Quarterfinal Schedule:
- Game 1: Friday, March 31st, Trail at Penticton, 7:00 pm
- Game 2: Saturday, April 1st, Trail at Penticton, 7:00 pm
- Game 3: Tuesday, April 4th, Penticton at Trail, 7:00 pm
- Game 4: Wednesday, April 5th, Penticton at Trail, 7:00 pm
- Game 5: Friday, April 7th, Trail at Penticton, 7:00 pm*
- Game 6: Sunday, April 9th, Penticton at Trail, 5:00 pm*
- Game 7: Tuesday, April 12th, Trail at Penticton, 7:00 pm*
Season Ticket Members can purchase their playoff packages at a discounted rate by visiting the Valley First box office at the SOEC. Single-game tickets will go on sale Friday, March 24, at 10 a.m.
Photo: Nanaimo Clippers
Colin Birkas won't be behind the Nanaimo Clippers bench when the Coast Division leaders begin a three-game road trip in Penticton Friday night.
Birkas, who doubles as the Clippers general manager, has been suspended indefinitely following complaints filed under Hockey Canada's discipline and complaints policy.
The team made the announcement on social media Friday afternoon saying the team was notified Birkas has been "temporarily suspended" pending the outcome of a third-party investigation.
"The Clippers organization respects the importance of following the process outlined by authorities," the team said on its Twitter account.
"It also prioritizes player safety and player experience.
"While Mr. Birkas denies the allegations made against him, the Clippers are co-operating with the investigation and working diligently to help resolve this matter expeditiously."
Associate coach Bob Beatty and assistant coach Tyler Gow will handle coach and GM responsibilities in the interim.
The Clippers road trip includes games in Penticton Friday, West Kelowna Saturday and Coquitlam Sunday.