The Penticton Vees were 31 seconds from victory against the Brooks Bandits.
The Vees, ranked 17th in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, couldn’t hang on to their lead against Canada’s top team, the Brooks Bandits and lost in a shootout, 4-3 in the Western Canada Cup Sunday at the South Okanagan Events Centre. A crowd of 2,922 fans attended, mostly Vees fans, who went home disappointed the result didn’t favour their team.
Trailing 3-1 with less than three minutes remaining, the Bandits forced overtime on goals by Tyrell Mappin and Josh McKechney, who roofed the equalizer with 31 seconds left, taking advantage of their extra attacker. After overtime couldn’t decide a winner, Dennis Cesana scored beating Mathew Robson on a backhand shot high. The Bandits then came flying on the ice to celebrate.
“Shootouts can go either way and we found that out tonight,” said Vees captain Nicholas Jones, who scored the lone shootout goal for the Vees.
Jones said it was a good game played at a fast pace.
“I thought we played really good for 57 minutes,” said Jones.
The Vees led 2-1 after the second period on goals by Jones and Chris Klack. Jones found himself open at the top of the crease when the puck came to him and he was able to tap it by Mitchel Benson at 10:03. Just under two minutes later, Klack put the Vees up 2-0. From the corner and just before the red line, Klack fired a shot that went over Benson’s blocker arm into the top corner popping the water bottle. Later in the period, Duncan Campbell had a great chance, but his backhand went just wide of the goal.
The Bandits cut into the lead when Cale Makar fed Tyler Carangelo, who found Parker Foo. Foo fired a shot that beat Mathew Robson low. Shortly after that goal, Jared Nash nearly restored the Vees two-goal lead. He was denied by Benson who kicked his right pad forward on a rebound.
The Vees made it 3-1 on a goal by Owen Sillinger, who scored short side after James Miller fired a shot from the point. Grant Cruikshank also picked up an assist on the play.
Robson earned the second star for his 33-save performance. Benson finished with 31 saves. The Vees went 1-for-2 on the power play and killed off both Bandits penalties.
The Vees return to action on May 2 at 7 p.m. when they face the Chilliwack Chiefs. The Vees are third in the standings with three points and are tied with the Portage Terriers, who return to action Monday when they face the Chiefs at 7 p.m.