Penticton Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson at the team practice Tuesday. Harbinson is five games away from the 500-win plateau.                                Mark Brett/Western News

Penticton Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson at the team practice Tuesday. Harbinson is five games away from the 500-win plateau. Mark Brett/Western News

Penticton Vees coach on home stretch to BCHL milestone

The Penticton Vees head coach is just five wins shy of 500 regular season victories.

Penticton Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson is on the doorstep of a milestone very few people have achieved in B.C. Hockey League history.

But to him, with just five games remaining to reach that 500 regular season career plateau, there’s an added bonus.

“It’s not selfish, hopefully we’ll get it (500th win) because we need five wins out of our last 10 games and the cool thing is I want to get it so we can win first place,” said Harbinson, Tuesday prior to the team’s practice at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The Vees are on top of the Interior Division standings with 67 points after 48 games, five points ahead of the Merritt Centennials who have a game in hand.

But that’s not to say the 500th win, when it comes, will not have a personal meaning to Harbinson who signed on with the club 12 years ago.

“There’s been a lot of options to go to different levels of hockey and when you stay somewhere you want to put your mark on it. If you never coach or play in the National Hockey League you want to have some sort of impact on the game and I think we’ve done that here,” he said. “It’s something they can never take away from you when you reach those kind of milestones. Again, it’s not an individual thing but it’s something I’m proud to have been a part of.

“When you stay somewhere for 12 years it becomes more a legacy piece for me. I was so proud to come to this organization, a team that has so much history and tradition. At some point someone else will come into this seat and hopefully they’ll feel the same way and hopefully when I leave I’ll be part of that history and tradition. It’s definitely more than a job to me.”

Averaging over 40 wins during his tenure in Penticton is very much an organizational thing according to Harbinson, who credits not only the team ownership but all the support staff he has worked with.

“People concentrate on championships but for me consistency is harder,” he said. “We talk about doing things the right way on a consistent basis and we’ve done that.

“We’ve been fortunate to win a lot of hockey games doing it and helped a lot of players go on to the next level. Guys are proud of coming from this program and we’re proud of them when they leave.”

While the exact number of BCHL 500-win coaches was not available from the league, search results show just three names on the list, former coaches Kent Lewis (Powell River Kings) Bill Bestwick (Nanaimo Clippers) and Harvey Smyl (Langley Rivermen).

Winners of eight of their last nine starts, the home stretch in the month of February is not going to be an easy road for Penticton.

Related: Penticton Vees winning streak snapped by Nanaimo Clippers

On Friday the Vees will play the Wenatchee Wild at the SOEC then Saturday night in Chilliwack, against the Mainland Division leading Chiefs in a game Harbinson feels is a must win to put heat on the teams currently nipping at their heels.

“Every week from here on in is going to have the same title; a big weekend,” said Harbinson. “We have six of our last games at home, so hopefully we’ll get good crowds and make it a difficult place for them to play.”

Feb. 8 and 9 Penticton will have a home and away series with rival Vernon Vipers before heading to Trail and back to Penticton Feb. 15 for a critical match with the Centennials.

Related: Penticton Vees add to winning streak, defeating Powell River Kings 4-3

Langley, Wenatchee and two games against Salmon Arm will wrap up the regular season.

“And then the fun begins,” said Harbinson. “No matter who we meet in the playoffs it’s going to be a formidable first round.”

Win number 500 for the coach could come as early as the Feb. 13 game at the Cominco Arena against the Smoke Eaters.



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

BCHLPenticton Vees

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

The currently vacant lot on Main Street where a Dairy Queen, retail and residential spaces have been approved to go into. (Town of Oliver)
Main Street in Oliver is getting a Dairy Queen and residential units

Oliver council gave its approval to fill the empty lot with DQ and residential units

A dumpster was on fire behind a residential complex in downtown Penticton Tuesday afternoon. (Brennan Phillips Western News)
Dumpster fire extinguished in downtown Penticton

There has been a string of dumpster fires lately

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Fire rips through shop in small South Okanagan town

The building was destroyed despite community efforts to fight the fire

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Skogie’s Express Tunnel Wash on Anderson Way in Vernon. (Submitted photo)
Lawsuit dismissed after vehicle damaged while inside Okanagan car wash

Civil Resolution Tribunal dismisses driver’s claim following a collision inside Skogie’s car wash in Vernon

The future of the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin is being discussed. (File photo)
Options presented for future of former Eagle Pass fire lookout in Shuswap

Stakeholders met in 2020 to discuss the restoration, or possible removal of the cabin

(Mayor Cindy Fortin - Peachland)
Peachland mayor declines early vaccination offer

Mayor Cindy Fortin said she wants seniors, immunocompromised individuals to get the shot first

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Conservation officers caught three men over fishing bull trout in Kinbasket Lake. (Facebook)
B.C. men fined $1.7K for overfishing near Revelstoke, Golden

The seized fish were donated to the Golden Food Bank

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021. (Kamloops This Week photo)
Clothing that ‘detracts from learning process’ removed from SD73 student dress code

Policy change underway after student in knee-length dress, long-sleeve turtleneck sent home

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Most Read