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BCHL: Express nips Vees in 2-OT

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The Penticton Vees went from sudden victory to sudden death and head coach Fred Harbinson was dumbfounded by the way it all shook down.
Penticton Vees D Patrick Sexton tries to carry the puck to safety as Vees G Hunter Miska and Jake Ahlgren, and CoquitlamÕs Marc Biega close in during BCHL action Saturday at the SOEC. Coquitlam won 2-1 in double-overtime.
The Penticton Vees went from sudden victory to sudden death and head coach Fred Harbinson was dumbfounded by the way it all shook down.
Bo Pieper scored at 2:21 of the second overtime Ð a minute after the Vees thought they had the winner Ð as the Coquitlam Express edged Penticton 2-1 in front of 1,815 fans Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Coquitlam (12-11-0-2) swept the home-and-home series, and Harbinson Ð while relieved to have salvaged one point with thanks to a late goal by Anthony Conti Ð couldn't believe Cody DePourcq's apparent winner was waved off.
"We scored a legitimate goal, the officials made a mistake, the puck was already going in and É 100 per cent their guy pushed (DePourcq) into the goaltender," said Harbinson. "It was a three-man (officiating) crew and you can't have it anymore the way the game is played now.
"The argument is we can't always afford a (four-man crew), but it just cost our hockey team a big point in the standings."
John Saunders scored a first-period goal for Coquitlam, who nursed the slender lead until Conti deflected home Alexander Coulombe's point shot with 4:14 to play in the third period. Patrick Sexton also assisted.
In the second (3-on-3) overtime, the Vees appeared to have won it on two occasions. First DePourcq was robbed all alone in front by Gordie Defiel with the goaltender flailing helplessly on the ice, then a few moments later he did score, but the referee waved it off for unintentional interference with the goalie.
On the winner, Pieper got in on a breakaway from the Express blueline and with Vees D Clint Filbrandt hounding from behind, roofed a perfect just over Hunter Miska and just under the bar.
Even coach Barry Wolff was amazed as the Express allowed just two goals in 127:21 of hockey against one of the league's best teams.
"We absolutely played our guts out," said Wolff. "We battled like we haven't all season."
The coach said the Express Ð known for their run-and-gun style Ð have been getting a bit better of late with their defensive zone coverage and neutral zone play.
"This one is a huge, confidence boost for us É we're learning we can shut down quality teams if we play like this," said Wolff. "It was a great game by both clubs and it's going to be a happy ride home for us. We won't care if there is a blizzard out there."
Defiel made 28 saves to beat the Vees a second straight night, while Miska made 19 saves, but more than half of them of the dangerous variety.
Harbinson said the point was "huge" with the standings so tight atop the Interior. The point - temporarily at least - put the Vees in a three-way tie for first place with Vernon and Merritt.
"We had a poor first period and then we going," said Harbinson. "We were terrific the last two periods. In the end, we felt like we had a point stolen from us."
The coach shook up his lineup after the 3-1 loss in Coquitlam, and wasn't about to apologize for it.
"We weren't happy last night and we felt we had to send a message," said Harbinson. "We could've sat a few more guys if we had some more bodies. We need to find consistency in our game. We look like world-beaters some nights and struggle the next."
The Vees will look to find it when they take on another inconsistent team Ð the West Kelowna Warriors Ð Tuesday at Royal LePlace Place.
ICE CHIPS: Pieper, Defiel and Miska were the three stars É D Jarod Hilderman and Clint Filbrandt drew back into the lineup for Penticton É Saunders' goal was his first of the season É Miska made a remarkable sprawling save to thwart Ryan Rosenthal on a shorthanded 2-on-0 break just before the Vees tied the game.

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