After capturing the Fred Page Cup on the road last week, the Penticton Vees finally got the chance to celebrate their championship victory with the entire community on Tuesday, May 24.
Starting from the SS Sicamous at around 4 p.m., Vees players and staff took a ride along Lakeshore Drive all the way to Rotary Park, where most of those in attendance were already waiting for them.
“We want to thank all of you guys for the love and support you’ve given us during the season and throughout the playoffs,” the Vees’ alternate captain Frank Djurasevic said in front of thousands at Rotary Park.
“Especially after coming out of COVID, everyone’s had a few tough years. Being able to win this trophy, bring it back here and make Penticton a city of champions is very special and something we wanted to do for all of you.”
The Vees completed a sweep of the Nanaimo Clippers in the BCHL Finals on May 18, winning the series’ fourth game 8-2 and capturing their second Fred Page Cup in five years.
“The community found a rallying point in the performance of the Vees,” said acting mayor Judy Sentes.
Djurasevic and Sentes were joined by team forward Casey McDonald for individual speeches before the Vees’ head coach, general manager and president, Fred Harbinson, arrived on the parade stage to the loudest cheers of the day.
Reminiscing about his 14 years in Penticton, Harbinson referenced the city’s championship teams in 2008, 2012, 2015 and 2017 before taking a special look at the 2021-2022 edition of the Vees.
“When you look at the championships over the years, they all tell a different story,” he said. “This year, you look at the 16 straight wins in the playoffs…it’s unbelievable.”
After losing its first playoff opener on March 31, the Vees won 16 in a row, sweeping the Prince George Spruce Kings, West Kelowna Warriors and aforementioned Clippers on route to a Fred Page Cup victory.
Community members were treated to a barbecue at Rotary Park after players, staff and city council took to the stage next to the BCHL championship trophy.
It may have been a day to celebrate the 2021-2022 Vees, but that didn’t stop Harbinson from already looking ahead to next year.
“We’re going to do everything possible to go back-to-back and win that championship again for you.”