Kaplanyan scored Hoover's first goal — and what would be the last in his standout, four-year tenure with the Tornadoes — with 25 seconds left in the first quarter, but moments later was tossed for cocking his head back and bringing it forward toward the player he was guarding in an aggressive motion, according to the referee who made the call.
"The guy had my cap and I was just trying to let it go, I was just playing very, very, very safe," Kaplanyan said. "The only way to get it out was to just aggressively use manpower to do it, but the way I tried to do it was release myself from the way he was holding my cap and the ref thought that I was doing something to him.
"It was a very bad call and this is a game that I was just going to play very safe and that call was just very, very bad. I know for sure that I didn't do anything bad."
To make matters worse, Poly scored on the play to take a 6-1 lead into the second quarter.
Hoover played the Panthers even in the second quarter, staying within 9-4 at halftime on a goal from Hakop Baghumian, off a steal and assist from Arin Azarian, a high lob by David Davtyan (two goals) and a shot by Thomas Bazikyan that got past Woolway and into the lower left corner.
"I think they responded great, they did a great job this entire playoffs," Witt said of his team. "They knew coming in that we can win no matter what the deficit, no matter what time is left on the clock. The kids were confident, they played extremely hard and I think they played a great second half."
Hoover scored first in the third quarter on a shot by Pogosian to draw within 9-5, but Poly scored the next three goals unanswered to take a 12-5 lead by the 3:31 mark of the fourth.
"It happens to the best of us and I'm sure that nobody is disappointed in Hoover's performance one bit," said Kaplanyan, who led the Tornadoes to a second-place finish in the Pacific League and into uncharted playoff territory. "This is something that Hoover's never seen before and I'm 100% sure nobody's disappointed in us."