They cheered and they chanted. For most of Saturday night, though, the crowd in Kelowna was mostly silent.
At Prospera Place, Darcy Kuemper stopped 19 of 20 shots for Arizona as the Coyotes beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 in NHL preseason action. The game was a sellout, and it was a coin flip as to which group was more frustrated with only one Vancouver goal, the Canucks or their fans.
“Obviously it’s tough when you’re not scoring goals, especially in the preseason,” said Canucks forward Brock Boeser. “I thought we had a lot more chances tonight than in other games. But that being said, we got to make sure we stay disciplined and don’t take as many penalties in the second period and take away momentum for us.”
Christian Fischer and Derek Stepan, with goals in the first period, Brad Richardson, who made it 3-0 in the second, and Michael Grabner, with an empty-net goal at 19:22 of the third, scored for Arizona (4-2-1).
Nikolay Goldobin replied at 10:49 of the third for Vancouver (1-6-0), which received a 24-save effort from Jacob Markstrom. Vancouver was 0-for-2 on the power play while Arizona was 1-for-5.
“It’s only preseason, but it’s nice to finish the last one on a high note, getting the win,” said Kuemper. “It was only one (goal against); I’ll take that any day. It was just a good all-around game for us.”
While the result was disappointing for Okanagan-based Canucks fans, with Arizona owning the percentage of play, the novelty of watching NHL hockey in Kelowna wasn’t lost on the locals.
Said one Vancouver fan, who attended wearing a Canucks jersey: “It wasn’t the best game, but it was good. Our team has a lot of work to do.”
Notably, while the biggest cheer of the night went to Vancouver when Goldobin scored, the second biggest was when it was announced Kelowna was leading Prince George 5-2 in WHL action with time winding down.