The Penticton Vees are feeling the love.
And why shouldn’t they? Canada’s No. 1 ranked junior A team won the BCHL championship and will now face the No. 11 ranked Brooks Bandits, the AJHL champs, for the Doyle Cup starting Friday.
After sweeping the Powell River Kings and returning to Penticton with the Fred Page Cup, nearly 50 fans were waiting at Penticton airport at midnight. On Saturday, nearly 100 showed up at the South Okanagan Events Centre to get autographs and their photos taken with the Vees and the cup.
Ryan Reilly described it as a “crazy experience.”
He has been impressed with the fans.
“I like interacting with the fans and getting pictures taken with the cup,” he said.
While sitting at the signing table with his teammates, signing their John Hancock’s on shirts, jerseys, sticks, etc. One fan who requested Reilly’s signature was wearing a Reilly jersey.
“Her name was Reilly. It made me think of Connor,” he said, adding that his brother is doing well with rehab and may return to Penticton. “It was funny to see a Reilly jersey and support the family.”
Another Vee taking it all in was rookie Cody DePourcq. He posed for pictures with his parents and grandparents Roy and Linda DePourcq.
Cody said it was amazing to have the fans come out. At the start of the season, the 17-year-old said he never thought they would do what they have.
“It’s fun,” said DePourcq, who was born in Vancouver and raised in Louisiana until he was nine. “It’s great to be part of.”
Cody’s father John, who helped the 1986 Penticton Knights win the Centennial Cup, said what they have accomplished is amaing.
“It’s a great experience. I remember what it was like,” he said. It’s an amazing experience in your life.”
His son was just thrilled to see happy faces.
Matt Miller said it’s good for the fans to be able to get to know the players.
“It’s a great turnout,” said Miller, whose favourite player is Nick Buchanan.
Vees play-by-play broadcaster Fraser Rodgers said he was worried about the turnout because of the short notice. The Vees announced the event on Friday.
“We had close to 100 people,” he said. “It shows the enthusiasm of how this community responds. The players really enjoyed it. It’s a small piece of giving back.”
For video coverage of the event, check www.pentictonwesternnews.com.
Emanuel Sequeira is the sports editor
of the Penticton Western News.