Connor Chartier scored the cup-winning overtime goal as the Penticton Vees became Western Canada Cup champions with a 4-3 overtime win over the Portage Terriers on Saturday night.
It was the first time the WCC final had required overtime, as Penticton becomes the second BCHL team to win the title, joining the Surrey Eagles who won the first-ever WCC in 2013.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year was always to win a National Championship and obviously we’ve done a lot of great things getting through our league, and now not getting through the back door is exciting, but we have one more task at hand, and we’re going in with the full intention of winning it (the RBC Cup),” said Vees coach Fred Harbinson.
Just over seven minutes into the game, Penticton opened the scoring when a Jack Ramsey shot from the right faceoff circle was stopped by Portage goalie Justin Laforest; the rebound was stuffed home by Riley Alferd, the tournament’s first goal scorer, to make it 1-0 Vees.
The Portage equalizer would come just under six minutes later, when Taylor Friesen jammed a similar loose puck past Vees goalie and tournament MVP Hunter Miska to knot it at 1-1.
In the second, the Vees came out flying, outshooting the Terriers 17-13 and notching two vital goals. First, a Dante Fabbro point shot beat Laforest through a screen at 5:17, and just over ten minutes after that, Steen Cooper found a power play rebound at the side of the net and swept it into the back of the Portage cage to give Penticton its first two-goal lead.
But the Terriers bounced right back only 25 seconds after the Cooper goal, as Tyler Jeanson was able to tap another shot in from close range to pull Portage back within one.
The narrow lead would hold for the Vees until the final minute of regulation; and with 57 seconds left, Zack Waldvogel won a battle at the front of the Vees net and knocked another point blank shot in past Miska to tie the game and send the final to overtime.
But just under three minutes into the extra frame, a sharp angle shot by Dakota Conroy skipped off the glove of Laforest and behind him, to a waiting Connor Chartier who tapped the puck in on the doorstep to send the Vees flying off their bench to celebrate their first-ever Western Canada Cup win.
Miska was brilliant in net for the Vees stopping 34 shots in the winning cause, while Laforest blocked 32 shots.
The Vees will open the 2015 RBC Cup in Portage, Manitoba against the same Terrier team they beat for the WCC title. Portage played the Melfort Mustangs in the WCC runner-up game on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. but scores were unavailable. With Portage as host, Melfort will also advance to the RBC Cup after beating the Fort MacMurray Oil Barons 4-2 on Saturday.