The West Kelowna Warriors completed what most thought impossible Saturday night as they eliminated the Penticton Vees from the playoffs with a 4-3 home win that wrapped up the series in six games.
It was a Garrett Forster empty-net goal with 4:29 to go that wound up being the winner but only after a furious Vees rally fell just short. Penticton got goals from Nic Jones at 17:04 and Tyson Jost at 18:02 to draw within one. Controversy reigned in the dying seconds as Penticton appeared to have tied the game on a point shot that was ruled to have been deflected in by a high stick. Referee Ward Pateman waved the goal off immediately.
West Kelowna led the game 2-0 after one on goals by Bryan Basilico and Jonathan Desbiens and went up 3-0 in the second on another Desbiens tally, his 10th of the postseason.
Nic Jones got the Vees on the board at 13:01 of the middle frame and the score remained 3-1 Warriors until Penticton pulled the goalie early for an extra attacker. Forster was able to make it 4-1, scoring into the unguarded net but Jones sparked the Vees response followed by Jost.
The capacity crowd at Royal LePage Place was on its feet for most of the final few minutes and erupted when Matthew Greenfield pulled out a five-alarm save on Jones in the final minute even before the disallowed goal.
West Kelowna’s triumph is the first series upset of this year’s playoffs. Penticton, a club that had not suffered back-to-back defeats all season, was defeated four-straight nights by the Warriors after initially leading the series 2-0. The Vees led the BCHL with 50 wins and and 263 goals scored but tallied just five goals over the last four games.
In Round 3, the double-round-robin format, the Chilliwack Chiefs will be the No. 1 seed by virtue of their 83 regular-season points. West Kelowna (79 points) will be the No. 2 seed while the Nanaimo Clippers (78 points) will be the No. 3 seed.