Vees golden with Canada

Travis St. Denis remembers the losing feeling from last year’s World Junior A Challenge.

Travis St. Denis’ second crack at the World Junior A Challenge was better as the Penticton Vee tasted victory with Canada West.

Travis St. Denis’ second crack at the World Junior A Challenge was better as the Penticton Vee tasted victory with Canada West.

Travis St. Denis remembers the losing feeling from last year’s World Junior A Challenge.

“Last year was definitely tough for myself and the other players on the team losing in the bronze medal game,” said St. Denis, who finished the 2011 tournament in Langley with one goal and two points in five games. “I think this year getting the second crack at it I just wanted to do anything I could to win the gold medal.”

Now St. Denis can’t wipe the smile off as he enjoyed helping Canada West win gold with his Penticton Vees teammates Curtis Loik and Troy Stecher.

Loik was a factor in a do-or-die game during the quarter-final against the Czech Republic. He scored twice, including the game-winner, to pace them to a 4-1 win and a semifinal meeting with Sweden.

“It was a great experience,” said Loik. “Had a lot of fun. Playing the other countries was really interesting. Seeing their different skills and how they played.”

Stecher called it an honour to represent his country and felt fortunate to get the opportunity. He admitted to feeling nervous because of the jersey he was putting on.

“It was the first time I ever threw on this jersey and probably the last, but I mean you get out there and all the nerves go away,” he said.

Stecher described winning gold as a relief after Canada West went winless in four games (exhibition and in preliminary).

After 18 days of being together, the chemistry started developing and positive encouragement from coach Kent Lewis helped the team hit their stride.

“We are so proud that we could represent our country and win a medal for them,” he said.

Vees coach Fred Harbinson is pleased for his players that succeeded in helping Canada West win gold and Team U.S.A. take bronze.

“I thought they all contributed in their own way,” he said. “Proud of Mike and Mario getting the bronze medal. Probably not the medal they wanted but to have all five of our guys come home with medals and just as important, they played at a high level, a very important tournament and a tournament that pushed their talents to the best competition in North America and abroad.”

Mario Lucia and Mike Reilly said it was a good experience helping Team U.S.A. capture bronze.

“I thought we had a good team and a lot of depth so I guess we’re happy we at least got a medal,” said Reilly.

For Lucia, ending the tournament on a winning note was positive. He finished the tournament with four goals and five points in as many games. Two of his goals came against Canada West.

“I got a little bragging rights with Loik, St. Denis and Stecher,” said Lucia, who was named to the tournament all-star team. “They ended up winning it all so they got the last laugh.”

Lucia said he expected the trio to show off their gold medals but that hasn’t happened yet.

“We will wait a few days and then hit them with the gold medal,” said St. Denis.

With five key players missing, the Vees collected nine of 12 points on their BCHL schedule, which left Harbinson extremely happy. Joey Benik, Steven Fogarty as well as Ryan and Connor Reilly, Nick Buchanan and Kyle Beaulieu stepped up to fill the void. They also received offensive boosts from their affiliate players.

“Now that it’s all said and done it was real good for our team,” said Harbinson. “It forced other guys to step up. It allowed us as a coaching staff to make decisions on affiliate players.”

Those who impressed were Alex Jewell, Dexter Dancs, Zachary Lindsay, Cameron Marks and Jordan McCallum.

“Those guys did extremely well,” said Harbinson. “Jewell, McCallum and Lindsay all scored goals and chipped in to help us win games.”

On Friday, the Vees hammered the Smoke Eaters 7-2 in Cominco Arena. Affiliate player Ryan Gropp popped in the winner. Against the Westside Warriors, Connor Reilly beat the home team on his own collecting five goals and adding a helper in a 7-4 win.

“His two linemates leave and he goes and puts in some of the performances that he did, and we’ve had some pretty dynamic players here in my time, nobody has scored five goals,” said Harbinson. “That’s a pretty special evening. You could just tell it was one of those nights.”

“I came to the game just telling myself I have to start shooting the puck better,” said Reilly. “The night before against Trail I missed a couple back door one-timers. I was lucky to get those opportunities to shoot the puck and the puck just kept going in.”

Scoring five in a game was a first for Reilly, who said he might have done it in mites hockey.

“That doesn’t really count because those games get to 20-15,” he joked. “Some guys were giving me a hard time. Kind of making fun of me. At the end of the day I couldn’t have done it without my linemates and teammates. It was a lot of fun seeing pucks going in and it was an even bigger win for us over Westside.”

On Wednesday, the Smoke Eaters come to the South Okanagan Events Centre to try and steal two points. Harbinson said during their 7-2 win, they found ways to score. He wants to see his team continue putting pucks on net. When asked what difference he noticed from the Smoke Eaters under coach Bill Birks from Jim Ingram, Harbinson said it’s essentially the same.

“This year they have to do things more by committee,” said Harbinson. “I think the one thing with coach Birks is he demands a work ethic that is second to none. He demands that out of every one of his players. The players that can’t do that won’t last with him and that’s a good thing.”

“When we played them (Penticton) here Friday, for the last half of the game we outplayed them, we outchanced them but we had a really below average start with the goaltending,” said Smoke Eaters assistant coach Bob Dever. “We have to come out and go after them instead of sitting back.”

Prior to the weekend, the Vees moved forward Garrett Hendrickson to the Salmon Arm SilverBacks. Hendrickson scored two goals and four points in 17 games.

Harbinson said the move will give Hendrickson a chance to be a go-to-guy with the SilverBacks.

“It’s a good fit for them,” he said. “They are trying to get themselves back in the race. We don’t want players to come back to haunt us but at the same time we wish him the best of luck.”

The Vees also moved forward Myles McCauley to the SilverBacks. Things for the former Vees player didn’t work out with the Omaha Lancers in the United States Hockey League and Harbinson did what he could to get McCauley back in the league as it is where the 20-year-old wants to play. The Vees couldn’t fit him into their roster as they are already have six 1991-born players.








Just Posted

Geordie Fife exits the dunk tank during 2017’s Discovery House Father’s Day festivities at Skaha Lake Park. The fundraiser helps raise awareness of the work done at the house and break down the stigma associated with addiction. (Western News File)
Discovery House Father’s Day fundraiser goes digital

The addiction recovery program will be rolling out videos ahead of the fundraiser

The proposed design of the five-storey building on Front Street. (City of Penticton)
Five-storey building proposed for Penticton’s Front Street

It will be the second time the proposal will head to council

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from St. Eugene’s residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Naramata community in shock as condolences pour in for homicide victim Kathy Richardson

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Most Read