Penticton Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson said his club has a rivalry with every team in the BCHL.
“Nobody likes to see us win,” said Harbinson. “We’ve had a habit of winning a lot of hockey games in the last few years.”
Things have boiled over with the West Kelowna Warriors, however. The Warriors blog posted on Dec. 30 after the Vees’ 4-2 win in West Kelowna that “the game wasn’t the most gentlemanly contest you’ll ever see, but that’s not always a bad thing. Rather, it’s a product of two teams who don’t like each other wrapping up 120 minutes of rancorous warfare.”
Once the buzzer went on Saturday’s tilt, with the Vees winning 2-1 at the South Okanagan Events Centre, the Warriors engaged the Vees in extra curricular activities that lasted about five minutes. Skip to the 5:23 mark of the video courtesy of ROCKtheSOEC.
Harbinson didn’t initially have thoughts on the melee.
“There’s probably frustration built on their side,” said Harbinson.
While the players exchanged pleasantries, Harbinson and Warriors coach-GM Rylan Ferster had their own exchange. At one point both left their benches towards the hallway then returned. When Ferster was asked what was said between he and Harbinson, he said with a smile, “It was just chatting, just chatting.”
Then asked if they met in the hall, he didn’t confirm or deny, once again saying with a smile, “We were just chatting.”
One of the intended targets on the Vees was Jedd Soleway, who received extra attention from Seb Lloyd and Braxton Bilous, who threw some punches. When the chaos was cleared, Soleway left the ice with blood on his face.
“We’ve had a few tough games with West Kelowna previously this season,” said Soleway, who had some scratches on his nose. “It seemed like it just kind of hit that point where they kind of blew up. I know a bunch of guys out there didn’t want to take it too far, didn’t want to get suspensions. We definitely held our own and stuck up for each other. Nothing wrong with that at the end of a hard game.”
Harbinson said he’s proud of the way his players handled the situation, clearly trying to avoid dropping the gloves. Only one fight was recorded on the game sheet between the Vees’ Michael Rebry and Shawn Hochhausen.
“Some people might want to say that we were soft and didn’t fight back,” said Harbinson, adding that they need to follow the rules. “Anybody that says differently, most cases, were tough guys in their own brains. When they go to sleep at night, they were tough guys back in the old days. The ones that were really tough, don’t have to say much. I thought our guys showed a lot of toughness and character.”
Harbinson added that he didn’t feel it was an overly vicious hockey game.
“More importantly, we have won six in a row and are playing good hockey,” said Harbinson.
While the Vees won both games last weekend, which included a 3-1 victory against the Vernon Vipers, the team lost the services of Ryan Gropp after he crashed hard into the boards. He didn’t play against the Warriors and it’s unknown when he will return. Travis Blanleil is expected to play this weekend against Coquitlam. Robert Mann is also expected to return soon.