Vees reach historic milestone

Skill is evident in the Penticton Vees, who tied a 22-year BCHL record.

Penticton Vees goaltender Michael Garteig celebrates with defenceman Zach Urban as they won their 29th straight game

Penticton Vees goaltender Michael Garteig celebrates with defenceman Zach Urban as they won their 29th straight game

Skill is evident in the Penticton Vees, who tied a 22-year BCHL record.

However, Vees defenceman Nick Buchanan described the key ingredient to their 29-game winning streak, equalling the mark set by the 1989-90 New Westminster Royals.

“There is lots of talent, but we all work hard and that’s a big reason,” said Buchanan, whose longest winning streak in the league was nine games with the Victoria Grizzlies.

The six-foot-three, 205-pound veteran has enjoyed being rewarded for the Vees effort. Tying the record during a 5-1 win against the Chilliwack Chiefs on Feb. 3 was half the battle, he said.

With a crowd of 3,885 at the South Okanagan Events Centre, Vees forward Bryce Gervais said the feeling was awesome in what they achieved.

“To know we accomplished a feat, we don’t want to stop there,” said Gervais. “We don’t want to take a step back.”

Gervais said it was the most exciting game he had been in.

“It felt like an NHL game to me,” he said.

Asked what the key factor, has been in the Vees success during the stretch that goes back to Nov. 5, Gervais said “our compete level is crazy.”

“We are getting in the game early,” he said. “Our backcheck is ferocious.”

The Battlefords, Sask., native said they always want to do their best. When it happens that a player has a bad game, a teammate will give them a boost. To Gervais, that’s a sign of strong leadership. Gervais plays on a line with Steven Fogarty and Joey Benik that has proven dangerous. Fogarty’s play especially has been strong. He scored the 3-1 goal against the Chiefs that secured the record-tying win with a wrist shot that found a hole between goalie Bryton Udy and the post.

“Those guys are easy to play with,” said Gervais. “I don’t want to do anything to stand out being one not working.”

When the Vees tied the 22-year-old record, players from other teams and the Nanaimo Clippers congratulated the Vees on Twitter. Gervais said it’s nice that everyone is recognizing their feat.

“It’s hard to do,” he said.

The Vees even had the backing of the Prince George Spruce Kings general manager Mike Hawes.

“Mike Hawes was playing for the New Westminster Royals to start the season that saw a talent heavy squad run the table through the better part of a season and collect two points from 29 straight opponents,” said Ron Gallo on his Spruce Kings blog. “As Mike Hawes told me, it wasn’t an easy task back then and it certainly can’t be thought of being any easier this time around with the Penticton Vees equalling that record and now poised to go one better.”

Grant Nicholson, a rookie with the Vees, said it’s been an incredible ride. It’s the first time that Nicholson has been on a winning team. He said this experience will help them in the playoffs because it shows “we can respond to pressure.”

“We have to keep playing with energy and not be so nervous,” said Nicholson, who added it’s only human nature to feel nerves in certain situations.

“Guys are excited to play every night and I think that is why we’re successful,” said Vees rookie defenceman Zach Urban.

On Tuesday the Vees travelled to Chilliwack with setting a new record in mind. Check www.pentictonwesternnews.com for game coverage.