Vees are champs

Vees win second Fred Page Cup in five years, fans wait at airport for teams arrival

Penticton Vees captain Logan Johnston hoists the Fred Page Cup in front of his excited teammates following a 3-2 win in Powell River. The Vees await the winner of the Alberta Junior Hockey League championship between the Brooks Bandits and Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Below

Penticton Vees captain Logan Johnston hoists the Fred Page Cup in front of his excited teammates following a 3-2 win in Powell River. The Vees await the winner of the Alberta Junior Hockey League championship between the Brooks Bandits and Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Below

It was a sweep victory as the Penticton Vees clinched their second Fred Page Cup in five years.

A 3-2 win in Powell River’s Hap Parker Arena Wednesday helped the Vees finish off the Kings in four straight games. It’s an accomplishment that Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson is impressed with.

“Not a lot of teams have gone in Powell River and won two straight,” said Harbinson.

Vees fans showed their support by waiting for the team plane to make its first arrival after it was  tweeted it would land between 11:30 p.m. and midnight. The second one landed around 3 a.m. Harbinson, who was on the second flight, was impressed by how many people waited.

“This town has gone overboard about our team,” said Harbinson. “It’s been outstanding. It started with the streak. We wouldn’t have won without them. They need to be commended.”

Vees goalie Michael Garteig, who was on the plane with Harbinson and the Fred Page Cup, said it was “pretty cool” to have fans waiting.

“Probably the most loyal fans in the BCHL,” he said. “It was pretty awesome.”

Harbinson added that with only so many more games with this group for the fans to watch, he emphasized the need for big crowds at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

“We want to try to win a Doyle Cup on home ice,” said Harbinson.

Also excited about the win is Garteig, a former King who was able to backup Chad Katunar the final two games.

“You have no idea,” said Garteig of how happy he is to be a BCHL champion. “Not playing, but just dressing for the last two games is pretty special. I’m so happy I got to be a part of that.”

Garteig praised his netminding partner, who earned first-star honours in the final game.

“He did awesome. He did everything we asked him to do,” said Garteig. “I personally think he stole a couple of games and he was one of our best players, if not our best.”

The victory is special for Garteig because as a King, twice they tried to beat the Vernon Vipers for the title.

“I think just to win a championship, it means the world,” continued Garteig. “That’s what you want to do when you’re in this league.”

Having the victory in Powell River was bittersweet for the Prince George native. He loves the players on that team and his billet family. He admits it was tough going back because of the bond he shares with certain people.

“Pretty emotional being in that city and walking around and being on the other side of things,” he said. “You get shivers down your spine when you roll into the town. It meant so much to beat them and obviously you want to see Powell River do good. I hope that they do win a championship. They deserve it and the coach does especially. I want to see them to do well but the Penticton Vees are my team. It couldn’t be any more fitting than playing my old team.”

Garteig said the Vees put out a great team effort highlighted by a solid defensive performance.

He said the Kings came out flat and that the Vees dictated the play while only firing 20 shots on Sean Maguire.

“When we got our opportunities though, we scored,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we were opportunistic because the chances we got were good chances. They weren’t weak goals. We played very solid defensively and worked hard. The last 10 minutes, they started to bring it. We had guys that were diving on pucks. Doing anything they could to get the puck out to win that championship.”