Team chemistry and a desire to motivate people were the inspirational factors behind Tony Veltri’s Penticton Vees photography book, Fifty Years in the Making.
“I brought my son to a Vees game early (last) season and saw the chemistry,” said Veltri, as the eventual RBC Cup champs reminded him of the chemistry the Detroit Red Wings had when they snapped their 42-year Stanley Cup drought. “I said wow, they have got the same chemistry.”
Veltri used to photograph Red Wings games for a newspaper when he worked in the east.
He also saw the passion of Vees fans. It was while chatting with a neighbour that he said it would be a great idea to do a book on the junior A club’s championship season.
“Next thing you know he is texting the owners, (because)he’s friends with the owners,” said Veltri. “It’s been a really great ride.”
Along with his photography, Veltri has gathered quotes from Vees players as well as retired NHLers, including Brett Hull, who played for the Penticton Knights. Veltri also spent time getting to know billet parents and fans to get a true sense of the Vees.
“I’m really happy and proud of the results,” said Veltri. “It’s more than just a hockey game, it’s about relationships. Our own home record is testimony to how important the fans are.”
Veltri said he feels honoured to have been part of the historical season.
“It’s really something to see how motivated they are and how driven they are to achieve their goals,” he said of the players.
Assembling the book had Veltri putting in 18-hour days. He is now working on a larger book because decisions had to be made in the smaller version as he couldn’t get everything in. The original book is 96 pages with 350 photos, and features two pages on each player. Helping Veltri complete the project were sponsors Valley First Credit Union, Home Hardware, Cantex, Say No To GMO, Sun FM, EZ Rock, the Penticton Western News and other community businesses.
“It was incredibly fulfilling and a wonderful experience,” said Veltri of working on the book. “Just seeing our fans and getting to know some of them and getting to know some of the people involved behind the scenes. I have had some great experiences. I have had some great hockey experiences. I rank this experience with the Penticton Vees as being the most fulfilling.”
To Veltri, this book is about the community.
“It really is a good statement about what Penticton is,” he added. “Penticton not only has this great history of hockey, but it really is alive.”
Vees co-owner Frank Darin said the book is going to be fabulous.
“Once that book comes out and you see those pictures, he did a really good job on it,” said Darin. “I have saw some preliminary pictures and what he’s used so far, he’s done a really good job. The fans are going to love it. His photography is something else.”
The contest for the book, in which the main prize is an aluminum image of one of the Vees photos Veltri captured, is being extended to Oct. 4 at midnight. Fans are encouraged to write a short piece (40 words or less) that will be included in the book. Write about a Vee that inspired you and why, what it means to be a Vees fan or your congratulations. Or just be creative in expressing your feelings on the 2011-12 Vees. Forms can be picked up and dropped off at any Valley First location, Nature’s Fair or Hooked on Books. Forms can also be emailed to email@example.com. A portion of books sales will go to the Okanagan Similkameen Neurological Society, Penticton Community Soupateria Society, South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation and the Vees.
Ice chips: Celebrate the Vees’ home opener, which unveils the RBC national championship banner, with the SOEC plaza party kicking off at 3 p.m. Fans are encouraged to come early and enjoy food fired up on the Boyd Autobody and Glass’s Car-B-Q. For the kids, Par-T-Perfect’s bouncy castle, face painting and balloon animal stations will entertain. Also, towels will be available for a toonie and the first 3,000 people through the gates will receive free magnet schedules. Tickets are available at the Valley First Box Office (at the SOEC) and the Wine Country Visitor Centre. Ceremonies begin at 5 p.m. The Vees recently announced the addition of Brian Bates as a regional scout based in Minnesota. Bates’ 30 years experience includes serving as a regional and amateur scout with the Columbus Blue Jackets for 12 years. Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson has known Bates for 13 years and said he has an eye for talent.
“Our organization is very fortunate to add an experienced hockey man like Brian Bates.”