2,112 fans came out to the Prince George Coliseum Saturday night to witness something that hadn't happened since November; a loss by the Penticton Vees in a British Columbia Hockey League game.
Saturday, the day of the game, I posted a brief rundown of how impressive the Vees streak was: essentially, they were good, but not perfect. No team is really perfect, unless they're winning 6-0 each and every night.
The Bill Jamesean pythagorean method, a way of predicting team winning percentage based on goals for and against, had the Vees at a solid 38-4 during their 42-game streak, before they were beaten 5-2 by the Spruce Kings on Saturday night.
Michael Colantone put the game away with two more goals in the third period; his first on the power-play as he jammed a puck underneath a sprawled Chad Katunar at 9:41. Colantone put the game out of reach with an empty-net goal in the dying moments.
The Vees end their regular season with a record of 54-4-0-2 and 110 points; the fifty-four wins and 110 points are new BCHL single-season records.
[43 not to be for the Vees - Castanet.net]
The 54-4-0-2 record is nothing to sneeze at, in the end. The team's predicted win total, based on their goals for and against record, is somewhere between 51 and 52 wins, so it came quite close. Being a general stickler for this number gives you pause as a hockey fan when you consider teams' one-goal victories. Instead of being an event where one team just had a little more in the tank, the one-goal victory can also signify a bounce that went favourably for one team.
In fact, a nice bit of research done by Jonathan Willis shows that NHL teams who win the most one-goal games over the course of the season are ones who seem more likely to be upset in the postseason. As a Junior A league rather than the biggest in the world with access to thousands of details about every player and team, the BCHL doesn't keep a record in games decided by a single goal, but by going through the Vees schedule, you can see that in their 60-game season, they were 8-3 in those games, and, more impressively, 4-1 in overtime games. It wasn't an over-reliance on winning close games, but they weren't steamrolling their way through every game. Eventually the dam was bound to burst.
The loss that eventually sunk the ship wasn't of the one-goal variety, but Penticton's general reliance on them during the 42-game winning streak wasn't anything that was sustainable.
But, while the streak is over, this may be of benefit to the Vees, who now enter the postseason without the pressure of continuing the streak looming over their heads. They enter a 7-game series against the Chilliwack Chiefs, a team they've beaten 6 times in 7 games this season, scoring 38 and allowing 15.
It was a long run, and Penticton set two records, the 53-win season, and the 42-game win streak, that will probably stand for a long time. And congratulations to them for it.