The Carleton Place Canadians are returning home from Vernon, B.C. after losing the RBC Cup to the Yorkton Terriers 4-3 in overtime on Sunday night.
Derek Falloon's goal at 15:01 during sudden-death overtime capped Yorkton's comeback from a 3-1 deficit with less than three minutes in regulation time.
"We're proud (of getting to the final), but it's a sour taste, for sure," said Carleton Place coach Jason Clarke.
The puck barely crossed the line as Carleton Place goaltender Guillaume Therien attempted to cover it. While the crowd waited, the referee confirmed it was a goal.
After trailing 3-1 at the end of the second period, the Terriers forced overtime with goals from Tanner Lishchynsky and Dylan Johnson eight seconds apart in the last three minutes of the third period.
Daylan Gatzke had Yorkton's other goal and Kale Thompson made 31 saves.
Anthony McVeigh, Stephen Baylis and Andy Sturtz scored for the Canadians while Therien stopped 42 shots in the losing effort.
Falloon's overtime winner was his second of the tournament. He also scored in extra time against Dauphin in the round robin.
"I guess I just happened to be at the right place at the right time," said Falloon.
Johnson also provided some drama as his tying goal, at 17:20 of the third period atoned for an interference penalty he took at 14:05.
"That (goal) felt great, especially after getting that penalty a couple minutes before that. Getting that goal was unreal. It brought the life back into the fans. After we got that, we knew this was ours," Johnson said.
OT loss ends 'resilient year'
Until then, the Canadians had a good reason to think they would claim the crown in their first RBC Cup appearance.
"Looking back on it now, maybe I should have called a timeout after the second goal," said Clarke. "But we've just been so resilient all year. Things didn't really seem to bother us."
Baylis put the Canadians ahead 2-1 at 4:12 of the second period as he fired a shot from the slot after his teammates fought to keep the puck in at the blue line along the boards with little space to work with.
Sturtz increased the Carleton Place advantage midway through the second, stealing the puck from a Terrier in one corner and skating to the opposite side to put in a backhand.
But just when it looked like the Canadians could begin to rest easy, Lishchynsky and Johnson sent the game to overtime, setting up Falloon's special moment.
"It's unbelievable. It's just the best feeling and I don't think I'll ever score a bigger goal than that for the rest of my life," said Falloon, 21, who has used up his junior eligibility.
Falloon's goal gave the Terriers their first Canadian Junior A championship in their fifth trip to the tournament.