The penticton Vees (top) celebrate their RBC Cup championship on Sunday after defeating the Woodstock Slammers 4-3. (above) Joey Benik pumps his fist after scoring the game winning goal with just 51.3 seconds left.

The penticton Vees (top) celebrate their RBC Cup championship on Sunday after defeating the Woodstock Slammers 4-3. (above) Joey Benik pumps his fist after scoring the game winning goal with just 51.3 seconds left.

Penticton Vees bring home RBC Cup

Penticton Vees national championship RBC Cup on Sunday and celebrate with fans.

A total of 86 games played this year, and for the Penticton Vees it all came down to the last 51.3 seconds.

That is the precise moment the puck found the back of the net securing the Vees the RBC Cup national title over the Woodstock Slammers on Sunday.

“That’s hockey. The line between winning and losing at this level when you are trying to win a national championship is so fine you can’t even see it,” said Vees coach/GM Fred Harbinson.

Getting there came with adversity. A 25-game suspension at the beginning of the season to their captain, season-ending injury to Connor Reilly, injury to their first-string goaltender just as playoffs were about to begin and losing the opening two games at the national tournament.

“We went through our fair share of stuff and every time there was a big game our guys found a way to get through it,” said Harbinson,

Losses to the Soo Thunderbirds and Humboldt Broncos to start the RBC Cup put the pressure on the Vees. It was something they thrived on. The team went on to beat the Woodstock Slammers and Portage Terriers to advance to the semifinals. Goaltender Michael Garteig made some incredible saves as the Vees punched their ticket to the finals shutting out the Thunderbirds 3-0.

“It would have been very disappointing to come short with all the great things these guys accomplished and I am just really proud of our group,” said Harbinson.

A record-breaking regular season put the coach in a position of confidence in the RBC Cup finals, so much so that in the final two minutes of a tie game for the national championship he ran with four forwards.

“That forth forward was the one that scored … and it was a heck of a goal to finish the season off,” said Harbinson.

The Vees had jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Slammers with goals from Travis St. Denis on the powerplay and Steven Fogarty. The Slammers went on a three-goal tear scoring in the first, second and finally taking the lead 3-2 early in the third period. But, the Vees did not give up. Bryce Gervais knotted the game to put the team back into it and with minutes remaining the Vees were like sharks circling on the powerplay.

Benik skated into the slot passing the puck to Gervais perched at the side of the net. Gervais one-tapped it back to Benik across the crease in the give-and-go play. With little hesitation Benik ripped it past the Slammers goalie hitting twine.

“It’s been a dream season,” said Benik. “That’s one of the plays we have on our powerplay. I circled back and saw St. Denis open. I threw it down to him and it opened up so he chucked it back to me. I did a little toe drag shot and thankfully it went in.”

It was a goal that Penticton native and Vees forward Cody Depourcq has witnessed before.

“It was something we have seen a million times from him. I think he’ll score nine out of 10 times from there for sure,” said Depourcq.

After winning 42 straight games, the BCHL Fred Page Cup and the Doyle Cup, the national championship holds a very special piece of history for Depourcq. His father, John Depourcq, was part of the 1986 Penticton Knights squad that won the title.

“My dad always told me great stories of that time. He also told me something his coach said that when they win that championship game they would walk together forever. That is something that stayed with me and with this team we won and now we walk together,” said Cody.

Just Posted

People decided to tag Skaha Bluffs rocks which the Ministry has to go in and now clean up. (Facebook)
Bluffs at popular Penticton rock climbing park defaced

Ministry of Environment is going to clean it up

The City of Penticton is beginning plans to revitalize its north entrance on Highway 97. (Jesse Day - Western News)
Penticton reviewing ideas on how to make the city’s north gateway more vibrant

The city has plans to redevelop the area into a welcoming and attractive entrance

A portion of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail near Naramata will be closed temporarily for upgrade work, including paving. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Upgrades plannned for trail near Naramata

Surface improvement work will mean temporary trail closure

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Skaha Bluffs climbing spots. (Monique Tamminga)
New parking lot and picnic area coming to Penticton’s Skaha Bluffs

The city will turn the access point at Crow Place into a parking and picnic area

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Phil McLachlan/(Black Press Media
Man shot at Kamloops shopping centre

The man is believed to be in stable condition

The location of the vehicle incident near Chase that currently has Highway 1 closed in both directions, according to DriveBC. (Black Press staff)
Hwy 1 closed in both directions east of Chase due to vehicle incident

Detour is in effect and drivers are encouraged to reroute to Highway 97 or Highway 97B

Scooters lined up for an educational event in Stuart Park on Wednesday, June 16. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
Free e-scooter safety training in Kelowna

Shared e-scooter operators collaborate to educate riders

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, four deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Most Read