Vees spoil Warriors home opener

Defenceman James De Haas scored the game winner with 90 seconds left in double overtime Friday giving the Penticton Vees a thrilling 4-3 victory over the West Kelowna Warriors.

The loss spoiled the Warriors home opener witnessed by more than 1,200 raucous fans.

De Haas grabbed a loose puck near the edge of the Warriors crease and roofed the winner over a sprawling Tyler Briggs.

The goal came after a wild final 40 minutes of regulation time which saw the Warriors take a one goal lead on three separate occasions only to see the Vees find a way to tie it.

Michael Rebry, who assisted on the winner, forced overtime when he slid a long rebound through the five hole at 19:42 of the third.

The goal came moments after Shawn Hochhausen rattled a shot off the post behind Vees netminder Chad Katunar and seconds after the Warriors had chances to clear the defensive zone.

Needless to say, it was a disappointed and disheartened Warriors dressing room.

"It was very, very disappointing. Under a minute left and you think you have the right guys on the ice and you don't. That one's on me," stated Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster.

"We should have had the puck down. It's on our stick and we should have had it down. Instead we try and make a fancy play and it's in our net."

Max French, with his team leading fifth, David Pope and Seb Lloyd scored the goals for the Warriors.

Ryan Gropp and Wade Murphy also tallied for the Vees. Murphy had a pair of assists to go along with his goal.

The Warriors, who scored five first period goals and had a lot of early jump in wins over Salmon Arm and Surrey last weekend, looked tight and tentative at times Friday.

"Maybe it's jitters opening up at home but again, I think you have to give them (Penticton) credit. They're a very good hockey team," says Ferster.

"They play hard, they play well, so it was probably a little bit of both."

Despite allowing four goals, Briggs was spectacular at times and kept the Warriors in it, especially early.

Briggs made four point blank pad saves early in the first then stoned Murphy and Sam Mellor later in the first period to preserve the scoreless tie.

For Penticton, it's the third straight game they have found a way to win a game late.

Last weekend they beat Vernon in overtime and got the game winner in the final minute in a one goal win over Chilliwack.

Both goaltenders were sharp the rest of the way as Penticton outshot West Kelowna 46-40 including 6-3 over 8:30 of overtime.

The Warriors scored on their only power-play opportunity of the game while the Vees finished 1-3 with the man advantage.

West Kelowna sits at 2-0-0-1 through three games to start the season.

They will travel to Trail next Friday before returning home to host the Vees again next Saturday.

Penticton meantime concludes this weekend Saturday night in Prince George.

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