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60 years, 90 banners: Penticton’s storied hockey history comes under 1 roof

Championship pennants from Memorial Arena have been reworked ahead of the Vees’ new season
Former Vancouver Canucks forward Brendan Morrison played with the Penticton Panthers in 1992-93, posting 35 goals and 94 points in 56 games. The Panthers, who won four division titles in Penticton, will have franchise banners up from the SOEC rafters, along with those from the Penticton Broncos, Knights and Vees. (Black Press Media file)

Banners from the Penticton Vees’ 2022-2023 championship season won’t be the only additions to the South Okanagan Events Centre rafters come Friday night.

When the team plays its home opener on Oct. 6, fans in attendance may notice dozens of new banners that date back to the 1960s hanging from above.

That’s because the Vees reworked 44 of its own championship symbols from Memorial Arena, and have given them a second home at the SOEC.

Fred Harbinson — the team’s head coach, general manager and president — spent the last 12 months working on the project, doing so alongside the hundreds of former Vees players and staff who helped raise around $20,000 to make it happen.

Now, once the four pennants from last year’s Fred Page Cup team are raised, there will be a total of 90 banners at the SOEC that represent Penticton’s junior hockey history — from the Broncos to the Knights, Panthers and Vees.

“Within 24 hours, we had the money raised,” the Vees president said, adding that Broncos icons Bob Nicholson and Chad Campbell were instrumental in making Harbinson’s vision a reality.

READ MORE: Penticton Vees to raise 4 championship banners at home opener

It all started after Penticton defeated Nanaimo in the 2022 Fred Page Cup Finals, as the team’s bench boss reflected on the city’s storied hockey history during the offseason.

A lover of sports history, Harbinson started reaching out to former players through the team’s alumni newsletters about how strongly he felt about having all of the franchise’s championship banners under one roof.

And so it began.

Banners, including ones from the championship-winning 1986 Penticton Knights and 1973 Penticton Broncos, were reworked to be consistent in size, as well as to include timely BCHL branding. Old banners in their original form can still be found inside Memorial Arena.

Before the start of this year’s Vancouver Canucks’ Young Stars Classic, existing banners at the SOEC were taken down, ordered chronologically with the reworked ones and then put back up to complete the project.

“They go all around the building and it’s pretty impressive,” Harbinson said.

The team’s president added that when fans come to Vees’ home opener against the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday night, it’s unlikely that they won’t notice all the work that’s been done to honour Penticton’s hockey history.

“Banners are for the fans,” said Harbinson, who has more than 300 playoff wins to his name during his 16-year tenure behind the Vees’ bench. “They’ll get to see those and enjoy them every time they walk into the rink.”

About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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