May 21, 2017
By Fraser Rodgers
After an emotional 32-game playoff run, which included three Game 7 and six elimination game wins, the Penticton Vees season ended Saturday afternoon in Cobourg, Ontario, in a 3-1 loss to the Cobourg Cougars in Semi-Final action at the RBC Cup.
Cobourg’s Theo Lewis scored the game-winner with just over eight-minutes left in the third period to break a 1-1 deadlock, and Spencer Roberts sealed the win for the hosts Cougars with an empty-net goal with just over a minute left in regulation. Stefano Durante, the RBC Cup Top Goaltender, picked up the win, kicking out 26 shots.
Captain Nicholas Jones, in his final junior game, scored the Vees only goal, a power-play marker that broke a scoreless tie midway through the second period. Mat Robson, who had a phenomenal tournament, suffered the loss, stopping 26 of 28 shots steered his way.
The Vees did everything but score in the final 12-minutes, including Gabe Bast wiring a shot from the right-wing off the post with just over 90-seconds left in the game. Penticton dominated large stretches of the game and manufactured numerous chances but three goal posts later and a few bad bounces spelled the end to an otherwise remarkable season.
After a scoreless first period, in which the Vees carried the majority of play, it was Jones breaking the scoreless deadlock midway through the second. On the Vees’ third power-play of the afternoon, Jones tipped in a pass from Chris Klack from the top of the crease at 11:13; it was Jones’ second goal and sixth point of the tournament.
Cobourg came back and leveled the game at ones and on a power-play goal of their own. Nick Minerva found Daniel McKitrick open at the side of the net for a tap-in at 15:05; his first of the RBC Cup tying it up at 1-1.
The Vees had two great opportunities to grab the lead back before the period ended but they were twice done in by the red iron. First, it was Ty Amonte spinning out from behind the net but he fired his shot off the cross-bar behind Durante. Then, in the dying seconds, it was Duncan Campbell letting go a wrist-shot from the right-wing but it buzzed off the cross-bar.
Cobourg grabbed their first lead of the game near the midway mark of the third and on a bit of a broken play. Nick Minerva had his shot blocked from the left-wing but the rebound bounced over to Theo Lewis on the far side of the zone, and he quickly roofed the rebound over Robson’s shoulder at 11:55.
Penticton’s best chance to tie it came with just over a minute left when Bast rifled a hard wrist-shot off the inside of the post. The third year defenceman cut to the middle from the wall and blasted a quick shot past Durante but it caught the post on the blocker side and managed to stay out.
Spencer Roberts empty-net goal put the game out of reach with just 1:06 left on the clock.
Cobourg will move on to play Alberta and West champs, Brooks Bandits in the final, at 2:30 Pacific, Saturday, May 21. Cobourg downed Brooks 5-2 in the round robin game May 18.
Final Score: 3-1 Cobourg
Power-Plays: Vees 1-4 Cobourg 1-3
Player of the Game: Vees- Nicholas Jones Cobourg- Theo Lewis
Game Notes: The Vees organization congratulates 20-year-old graduating players, Mat Robson, Gabe Bast, Nicholas Jones, Mitch Meek, Duncan Campbell, Ryley Risling and Taylor Sanheim on remarkable junior hockey careers.
The organization would like to also thank their fans and corporate partners for their amazing and unwavering support through an unforgettable 2016-17 season.
The Vees will make the trip home to Penticton on Monday and are expected to arrive back in town in the late afternoon.