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‘Piece of our heritage’: Vees to celebrate 1973 Penticton Broncos

50th-anniversary celebration for championship team planned before Vees game
CEO and Vice-Chair, of Oilers Entertainment Group, Bob Nicholson makes an announcement in Edmonton, Alta., on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. Nicholson was the captain of the 1973 Penticton Broncos, who went on to win the BCHL championship. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

It was in the spring of 1973 when Bob Nicholson hoisted the BCHL championship trophy for his hometown team, moments after the Penticton Broncos had defeated the Chilliwack Bruins in a hard-fought seven-game series.

Now 50 years later, the legacy of the provincial champions will be honoured and celebrated before the Penticton Vees hit the ice at home against the Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday, Nov. 18.

Nicholson, who went on to become the CEO of Hockey Canada and senior advisor to the Edmonton Oilers, will be one of 12 players from the 1973 championship team to attend the pre-game ceremony at the South Okanagan Events Centre this weekend. An additional four staff members from the team and around 50 family members will join them, said Vees president Fred Harbinson.

The Broncos’ win 50 years ago marked the city’s third-ever BCHL title, with Penticton also finding themselves on top of the provincial Junior ‘A’ hockey world in 1967 and 1968.

“It’s a piece of our heritage,” Harbinson said. “We’re proud of the Vees, Broncos, Knights and Panthers…each era tells a story.”

What some may not know about the 1973 Broncos is that the team played games outside B.C., too.

After topping Chilliwack in the BCHL Finals, the Broncos appeared in the Pacific Centennial Cup Championship, where they defeated the Calgary Canucks in five games. The team would go on to battle the Portage Terriers in the Western Canada championship series, ultimately falling in the series’ decisive seventh game.

Travelling in a school bus, Harbinson said the team played a total of 32 playoff games in 34 days across four different provinces.

Seven players from the Broncos’ historic squad went on to play in the NCAA. Tony Currie would wind up in the NHL, suiting up for the St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Hartford Whalers.

The Vees will wear special throwback jerseys on Saturday to honour the 1973 Broncos.

“Our players are excited about wearing them and everything we are today, you have to look back at where it started,” Harbinson said. “We’re always going to appreciate and take care of those that took care of the program before us.”

The Penticton Vees will wear Penticton Broncos jerseys on Nov. 18, 2023, to honour the 1973 BCHL Champions. (Photo- Penticton Vees)

Along with the aforementioned Nicholson, the Vees have announced that the following former Broncos will attend Saturday’s pre-game ceremony:

• Jim Treliving (Director): Boston Pizza Co-Owner, TV personality on Canadian show Dragons’ Den

• Chad Campbell (Forward): Led the BCJHL in scoring in 1973

• Ed Dempsey (Defenceman): 1975 NCAA champion and former head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars, and Prince George Spruce Kings.

• NHL alumni: Grant Mulvey, Greg Carroll, and Currie

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About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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