Streak behind Vees, focus shifts to championship

Vees winning streak snapped, hunger for RBC Cup championship begins

  • Mar. 13, 2012 2:00 p.m.
Penticton Vees  rookie forward Cody DePourcq gets a step on Prince George Spruce Kings forward Patrick Chore at the Prince George Coliseum.

Penticton Vees rookie forward Cody DePourcq gets a step on Prince George Spruce Kings forward Patrick Chore at the Prince George Coliseum.

It had to happen eventually. It was inevitable.

As the oracle in Matrix Revolutions said, “Everything that has a beginning, has an end.”

The Vees’ winning streak was born Nov. 11, and died March 10. After extending their Canadian Junior Hockey League record to 42 games with an 8-5 win against the Prince George Spruce Kings on Friday, and tying a junior A mark set by the 1981-82 Flin Flon Bombers, the Vees lost 5-2 against the Spruce Kings Saturday.

“We got a good group of kids in there who brought their ‘A’ game every night, and played hard and didn’t take anything for granted, so now it’s kind of nice to have it over,” said Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson to the Prince George Free Press.

As for losing to the Spruce Kings, Harbinson said it is hard to win two games in a row in the Prince George Coliseum. While the Vees did rest defencemen Mike Reilly and Troy Stecher, he wasn’t using that as an excuse.

“I think the only thing I can really say is I thought the Spruce Kings played two very good games and they deserved to win at least one of them,” said Harbinson.

A former university classmate, who is a work colleague at the Free Press, sent me a message saying, “The winning streak is OVER. Finally.”

My response. “I guess it has to happen eventually.”

He must have thought that I had some kind of emotional tie to the streak. A part of me was a bit surprised since the Vees have overcome deficits.

I thought what was great about the streak is it generated fan interest. There are also businesses and some homes decorated in blue. The Vees attracted over 3,600 people against the Smoke Eaters on a Tuesday night. That’s a great crowd.

I responded by saying, “Their chase of the big prize starts.”

That’s the only thing this team cares about. Their chase for the RBC Cup begins Friday as Harbinson looks to guide the Vees to a second Fred Page Cup championship (BCHL title) under his watch.

It’s time for the Vees to take their games to another level. One player you can bet will is captain Logan Johnston. The Penticton minor hockey product has risen the past two playoff seasons. Last year he shared MVP honours with Stecher. The season before he earned it on a team captained by Denver Manderson, who led the team with 10 goals in 16 playoff games. Johnston was tied for second with six in 16 games. As Johnston said before, the playoffs suits his game.

Coming back to the Vees’ record-setting season, Mario Lucia was named the Interior Conference Rookie of the Year (42 goals and 93 points) by the BCHL, while Mike Reilly earned Best Defenceman honours for the Interior Conference (24 goals and 83 points).  Michael Garteig was recognized as the best goalie with a 1.93 goals against average in 2,578 minutes. Garteig also earned 41 wins.

Harbinson said it was well-deserved, adding that the players put in a lot of work.

“Mario getting 42 goals is pretty special,” said Harbinson, who was named the Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy winner as Interior Coach of the Year.  Harbinson said his recognition is a reflection of the coaching staff.

Other league winners can be found in the online version of the column.

Vern Dye Memorial Trophy – Most Valuable Player

Interior Conference: Paul De Jersey, Prince George Spruce Kings

Coastal Conference: Alex Petan, Coquitlam Express

Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy – Rookie of the Year

Coastal Conference: Alex Kerfoot, Coquitlam Express

Best Defenceman Award

Coastal Conference: Craig Dalrymple, Powell River Kings

Bob Fenton Trophy – Most Sportsmanlike Player

Interior Conference: Regan Soquila, Merritt Centennials

Coastal Conference: Alex Kerfoot, Coquitlam Express

Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy – Coach of the Year

Coastal Conference: Matt Erhart, Surrey Eagles

 

Non-voting awards

Brett Hull Trophy – BCHL Top Scorer

Paul De Jersey, Prince George Spruce Kings (41 goals, 57 assists for 98 points)Wally Forslund Award – Top Goaltending Tandem (best combined goals-against average)

Sean Maguire and Jonah Imoo, Powell River Kings (2.05 GAA)

 

 

Emanuel Sequeira is the sports editor of the Penticton Western News