Newsmakers of the Year: ‘Historic’ Penticton Vees on top of B.C. Hockey League world

The Penticton Vees celebrate winning the BCHL championship after sweeping the Nanaimo Clippers, winning Game 4 at Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena. (Greg Sakaki/Black Press Media)The Penticton Vees celebrate winning the BCHL championship after sweeping the Nanaimo Clippers, winning Game 4 at Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena. (Greg Sakaki/Black Press Media)
The Penticton Vees returned to the South Okanagan Events Centre with the Fred Page Cup on Thursday, May 19. (Logan Lockhart- Western News)The Penticton Vees returned to the South Okanagan Events Centre with the Fred Page Cup on Thursday, May 19. (Logan Lockhart- Western News)
The Penticton Vees celebrated with thousands at Penticton’s Rotary Park on Tuesday, May 24, after taking ride down Lakeshore Drive for a Fred Page Cup Championship parade. (Logan Lockhart- Western News)The Penticton Vees celebrated with thousands at Penticton’s Rotary Park on Tuesday, May 24, after taking ride down Lakeshore Drive for a Fred Page Cup Championship parade. (Logan Lockhart- Western News)

What a season, what a year for the unbeatable Penticton Vees.

In 2022, the Vees once again found themselves on top of B.C. Hockey League world.

A 16-game winning streak in the league’s first post-COVID playoffs last spring propelled the Vees to their fourth Fred Page Cup title in the last 10 years and 13th in franchise history.

After finishing the 2021-22 regular season on top of the Interior Division, the Vees kicked off the playoffs by losing 5-3 to the Trail Smoke Eaters on March 31. It would take 253 days for Fred Harbinson’s team to lose again.

Penticton captured the Fred Page Cup on May 18 following its sweep of the Nanaimo Clippers, returned home to a hero’s welcome for the championship parade along Lakeshore Drive on May 24, and then began the 2022-23 campaign with 24 consecutive wins.

READ ALSO: ‘Historic’ 2022 Penticton Vees celebrated with BCHL championship parade

The Vees became a rallying point for the community, saysd former city councillor Judy Sentes, and remained the talk of the town through to December, thanks to their record-breaking start to this season.

“We’re going to do everything possible to go back-to-back and win that championship again for you,” Harbinson, the team’s president, general manager and head coach, said after the team’s run to the Fred Page Cup.

And if the start of this season was any indication, Harbinson appears to be living up to his word. Penticton is 27-2-0-0 thus far in 2022-23 and didn’t find itself on the losing side of an affair until Dec. 9.

Overtime thrillers, come-from-behind victories and multi-point efforts on a nightly basis from local brothers Bradly and Josh Nadeau headlined the team’s record-breaking start to the campaign.

Vees’ games at the South Okanagan Events Centre in early 2022, meanwhile, served as among the first local events to embrace 100 per cent capacity crowds, following nearly two years of COVID-19 restrictions and mandates.

READ MORE: Penticton Vees back to hosting 100% capacity starting Feb. 18

Watching Harbinson’s squad at the SOEC once again became the thing to do and three months later, the team solidified its place among the city’s top newsmakers in 2022 when they captured the prestigious Fred Page Cup.

“Especially after coming out of COVID, everyone’s had a few tough years,” said current captain Frank Djurasevic. “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.”


@lgllockhart
logan.lockhart@pentictonwesternnews.com

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