PENTICTON 6 - VICTORIA 3
Every league has its Evil Empire, that dynastic team that stands out with an abundance of championships.
In the NFL there has been the New England Patriots. The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have served those roles respectively in the NHL and NBA.
Closer to home, it has been Forge FC in the CPL in soccer and the New Westminster Salmonbellies in the WLA going back historically in boxla.
It has been the Penticton Vees in the B.C. Hockey League. To mix sporting metaphors, they don’t mind being viewed as the Manchester City of the BCHL, the team every other team marks on the calendar.
They thrive on it.
Just ask the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and Nanaimo Clippers, who were each swept in four games in the respective 2023 and 2022 BCHL championship finals as the Vees won their 12th and 13th Fred Page Cup championships led by Bradley Nadeau, who was selected in the first round of this year’s NHL draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Vees have made 23 appearances in BCHL Fred Page Cup finals.
A total of 55 Vees alumni have played in the NHL, including Brett Hull, Paul Kariya, Ray Ferraro, Chuck Kobasew, Dante Fabro, Duncan Keith, Tanner Glass, Troy Stecher and Tyson Jost. This season’s Vees have 18 players, almost the entire roster, committed to NCAA Div. 1 schools.
The two-time BCHL champion Vees (15-1-3) defeated the Victoria Grizzlies (13-7) by a 6-3 count on Saturday night before 2,908 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.
“I didn’t really have this circled on the calendar because I played the Vees a lot when I coached in the Interior Conference,” said Grizzlies general manager and head coach Rylan Ferster.
“But everybody knows how they are. The Vees are always really good.”
They were again on Saturday, with captain and NCAA University of Maine Black Bears-bound captain Thomas Pichette scoring two goals.
The Grizzlies replied with goals from NCAA Northeastern University-bound Reegan Hiscock, NCAA Arizona State Sun Devils-committed Richard Baran and Luc Pelletier, the latter the Courtenay product headed to play at Princeton of the Ivy League.
The Grizzlies now head north to play the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday and Saturday in this season’s Road Show games in Quesnel in partnership with the Lhtako Dene Nation.
The Road Show brings BCHL games to communities that don’t have teams. The event also features minor hockey camps and school visits as part of the occasion. The special guest will be 17-season NHL veteran Geoff Courtnall of Victoria. This will be the third BCHL Road Show after Burns Lake last season and Kitimat in 2020.
BCHL NOTES: Six-time Stanley Cup champion Glenn Anderson was named Saturday as GM of the Powell River Kings.