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50 wins and 600 days later, hockey’s Vees remain unstoppable in Penticton

Team hasn’t lost on home ice since March 2022, setting an all-time BCHL record
The Penticton Vees erupted for eight goals on Friday, Nov. 17, against the Prince George Spruce Kings to extend their home winning streak to 49 games, dating back to March 2022. (Photo- Cherie Morgan)

The night of March 31, 2022, didn’t go as planned for the Penticton Vees.

Penticton had cruised all regular season long to play as the No. 1 seed in the BCHL Playoffs, but had just lost its opening postseason game against the Trail Smoke Eaters on home ice.

“We had a meeting before the playoffs and I could tell how much it mattered to the guys to win the whole thing,” recalled Fred Harbinson, the Vees’ head coach, general manager and president. “So, after that game, it wasn’t overly concerning.”

Turns out, Harbinson’s instincts couldn’t have been more correct.

It’s been 600 days since then and the Vees have yet to lose another home game at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The team’s 50-game home winning streak is a B.C. Hockey League record, knocking off the Surrey Eagles’ previous 42-game record set from 1996 to 1997.

After that one loss in March, Penticton would go on to win the Fred Page Cup in 2022, going 16-0 and defeating Nanaimo in the finals.

And then there’s the next season (2022-2023), a Vees campaign that produced a total of zero home losses, including the playoffs.

It was in May 2023 when Penticton defeated the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in Game No. 2 of the BCHL Finals. On that night, the Vees won their 43rd home game in a row to set a new all-time record.

“We have a big mural that says ‘home ice is an advantage,’” Harbinson said. “It’s the last thing the players see before they go on the ice.”

Fresh off another Fred Page Cup title, the Vees entered the 2023-2024 season this past September with almost a brand-new roster. But the results at home thus far, have been the same.

Penticton topped the Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday, Nov. 18, to win its 50th in a row at the SOEC.

Harbinson’s squad achieved the feat while wearing Penticton Broncos jerseys to honour the local championship team from 50 years ago.

READ ALSO: Vees to celebrate 1973 Penticton Broncos

“I sat with the Broncos when they came back, listening to all their stories from the past,” Harbinson began. “It will be the same for these guys (now)…there’s been a lot of streaks here, we’re proud of all of them and these are things the players will remember.”

The old franchise mark for home wins in a row came courtesy of the Penticton Knights, who won 38 games at Memorial Arena from 1985 to 1986.

The longest home winning streak in NHL history, meanwhile, is 24 games. That mark was set by the Philadelphia Flyers’ legendary Broad Street Bullies team in 1975-1976.

The Vees will hit the road to play Vernon on Nov. 25, before returning home to host the Trail Smoke Eaters on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

By then, it will be 607 days since the Vees last lost at the SOEC.