Hockey is more than just a game; it’s a way of life for many Canadians and Americans. And when it comes to minor hockey, there are few teams more storied and respected than the Penticton Vees. With a history dating back to the early 1900s, the Vees have been a dominant force in the world of junior hockey, capturing numerous championships and producing top NHL players.
But with such a rich history comes a long list of rivalries. Over the years, the Vees have faced off against some of the toughest and most iconic teams in the sport, creating memorable matchups and fierce competition. Let’s take a look back at some of the Vees’ most important rivalries and the impact they’ve had on the team and the sport as a whole.
The Battle of the Border: Penticton Vees vs. Spokane Chiefs
In the early days of the Vees, one of their biggest rivals was the Spokane Chiefs. Founded in 1985, the Chiefs quickly became a formidable opponent for the Vees, and their geographic proximity only added fuel to the fire. The two teams competed for the British Columbia Junior Hockey League championship numerous times, with the Vees coming out on top more often than not.
But it wasn’t just about winning championships; it was about pride and bragging rights. Fans would pack the arena to watch these two teams battle it out on the ice, and the intensity was palpable. The rivalry between the Vees and the Chiefs helped to solidify the importance of junior hockey in the region and brought a sense of community and passion to the sport.
A Tale of Two Dynasties: The Penticton Vees vs. the Vernon Lakers
In the late 80s and early 90s, the Vees had another fierce rival in the form of the Vernon Lakers. These two teams were powerhouses in the BCJHL, and their games were often met with huge crowds and intense competition. The Lakers were led by head coach Brian Ensor, who built a formidable team that was hard to beat.
But the Vees were a force to be reckoned with as well. Led by coach Fred Harbinson, the Vees had some of the best players in the league, including current NHL stars Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp. The rivalry between these two dynasties brought some of the most exciting and high-quality hockey the region had ever seen.
The Battle of the Valley: Penticton Vees vs. the Langley Rivermen
More recently, the Vees have found themselves going head-to-head with another BCJHL team – the Langley Rivermen. What started off as a friendly rivalry between neighboring teams has quickly turned into one of the most heated matchups in the league.
The two teams have met in the playoffs multiple times, with each series becoming more intense and hard-fought than the last. Both teams have a strong fan base, and when they face off on the ice, the atmosphere is electric. The rivalry between the Vees and the Rivermen has brought new life to the BCJHL and has helped to elevate the level of competition in the league.
Penticton Vees vs. the Rest of the World
While the Vees have had many fierce rivalries within their own league, they have also faced off against some of the top teams in the world. The team has represented Canada at the World Junior A Challenge numerous times, facing off against top teams from Russia, Sweden, and the United States.
In 2012, the Vees made history by becoming the first team in Canadian Junior A hockey to win the World Junior A Challenge and the RBC Cup (the national championship) in the same year. This achievement not only solidified the Vees’ dominance in the league but also proved that they could hold their own against the best of the best from around the world.
In the end
As the Penticton Vees continue to compete and thrive in the world of junior hockey, it’s clear that their rivalries have played a significant role in shaping the team and the sport itself. From battling it out with teams just across the border to facing off against some of the best teams in the world, the Vees have proven time and time again that they are a force to be reckoned with.
So, as we look forward to future matchups and rivalries, let’s take a moment to appreciate the rich history and tradition of the Penticton Vees and the impact they’ve had on the world of hockey.