Brad McClure will never get to lift the BCHL’s Fred Page Cup.
That was one of the thoughts racing through his head as he sat on the bench leaning towards the boards in an empty South Okanagan Events Centre following the Penticton Vees’ 4-3 overtime loss to Vernon in Game 7 of the BCHL Interior Division final Saturday.
“Probably one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had,” said McClure. “It’s always been a dream of mine (to win a junior A championship). It’s really unfortunate that it won’t happen.”
However, the Stratford, Ont., native is looking forward to the next chapter, playing Division 1 hockey in Mankato, Minn., 75 miles southwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul, for the Minnesota State University Mavericks in the National Collegiate Athletic Association next fall.
“It was unbelievable. I couldn’t ask for a better two seasons,” said McClure of his time in Penticton. “Right from the coaching staff to the trainers. Everyone here is professional. You get treated like a pro. They give you every opportunity to be a better hockey player and a better person.”
Among the highlights for McClure was playing for the BCHL championship last year against the Surrey Eagles. It was a special moment since he almost helped the Vees win the Fred Page Cup. It was also an unreal experience to captain the Vees.
“I was pretty blessed with that opportunity to be the captain of this organization. It’s got such a rich history,” he said. “I took pride every game, every practice in being the captain.”
It was the first time McClure was put in that role, though being an assistant captain for two seasons in junior B gave him an idea of what it was like. McClure also kept in touch with former teammate and Vees captain Troy Stecher, as well as a couple of other captains from his past for advice.
Being captain helped McClure grow into a more consistent player. “It helped my game a lot,” he added. “As a person, it just helps you a lot. Making sure you are doing the right things. Making sure teammates are doing the right things. We have a heck of a group here. Everyday guys wanted to learn. Seeing that as a captain is pretty special.” In 111 BCHL regular season games, McClure finished with 68 goals and 126 points. He added 17 goals and 33 points in 26 playoff games.