When the Penticton Vees drubbed the Trail Smoke Eaters 10-0 on Tuesday, it broke a Canadian Junior Hockey League record.
It was an impressive accomplishment in front of 3,655 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre on the same day, March 6, 57 years after the Penticton V’s defeated the Russians for the world championship.
On Monday morning it was revealed that the Vees don’t own a national junior A record. At least not yet. Dean Millard, a radio personality on the Pipeline Show which airs in Edmonton on the Team 1260, revealed on his blog that the 1981-82 Flin Flon Bombers won 42 games in a row in the Norman Junior Hockey League.
“If you’ve never heard of the Norman Junior Hockey League, you’re not alone,” joked Millard on his blog.
Millard grew up in Manitoba and knew of the NJHL. He wrote that the Bombers faced the Fort Gary Blues, now known as the Winnipeg South Blues, in the Turnbull Cup. They lost three straight by a combined score of 30-7. Had the Bombers won, they would have had a chance to win the Centennial Cup.
Charla Flett of the Canadian Junior Hockey League helped clear the confusion in an email sent to the BCHL.
“The NJHL was formed in 1978 as a junior B league, and in the 1979-80 season the league was promoted to junior A,” she wrote. “During the 1981-82 season, the Flin Flon Bombers posted a perfect regular season record of 42-0 -0. The NJHL folded in 1985. From 1980 until 1985, the champion of the NJHL played the winner of the MJHL for the Turnbull Cup, and the winner advanced to the Centennial Cup.”
She then added that the CJHL officially formed in 1993. The Vees can claim a CJHL record, but technically the junior A record is 42, set by the Flin Flon Bombers.
When discovering this fact about Flin Flon, I chuckled in disbelief. I covered the Bombers in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. While I did learn about some of the Bombers’ historical moments, highlighted with their the Memorial Cup win in 1956-57, talk of that ‘82 team never came up. Why would it? The first season I covered the Bombers, the longest winning streak they may have had was likely three games. They posted a record of 19-33-1-2 and they made the playoffs because the Kindersley Klippers were worse, winning six of 55 games.
Millard told me that the NJHL “wasn’t a very good league by any means.”
Following the Vees’ progress, Millard said he was “just kind of sitting on it hoping Penticton would eventually get there and then I could put this story out there.”
Some may question Millard’s timing, but it doesn’t matter. What he stated is a fact. Of course there could be another junior A team that won 43, 44 or even 45 games in a row.
While the Vees have set a CJHL record, they have also established a new mark with 53 wins in the BCHL. They have also tied a 22-year mark for points in a season. Depending on what the Vees do in Prince George on Friday and Saturday, that record could last a while.
Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson is proud of what his players have accomplished. And he should be. It’s incredible. With the Vees dominating the BCHL, the winning streak has just been a motivation to keep playing strong. From Day 1, whenever I have spoken to the players, winning the national championship is all that comes up. The winning streak has been great, but for the Vees and its players, it’s all about the RBC Cup.
Emanuel Sequeira is the sports editor of the Penticton Western News.