The Penticton Vees can re-write the BCHL record book in the next seven days.
The Interior Conference’s first-place club has won 28 straight games and has a chance to eclipse the league mark of 29 consecutive wins set by the 1989-90 New Westminster Royals. Adding further intrigue is that the Vees play the Chilliwack Chiefs in each of their next two games and the Chiefs are coached by Harvey Smyl, who was on the Royals’ bench as an assistant coach the year they set the record.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Vees coach Fred Harbinson who, as a player with the Calgary Canucks, lost to the Royals in the 1990 Doyle Cup. “Clearly they’re not going to lay down for us; they’ll play hard for their coach so he can keep that record.”
Smyl says the fact a record is on the line is not what will drive his club.
“You look at the standings and we need the points,” said the four-time BCHL coach of the year. “The motivation for us is to stay in the playoff hunt. We play in Trail on Saturday; these are all big games.”
Looking back to the 1989-90 season, Smyl recalls a club that could do it all.
“We were highly skilled with lots of depth as well as an extremely tough team,” he said of the squad that went 52-3-4. “We had all aspects.”
This year’s Vees may be even more loaded. Penticton has seven of the top eight scorers in the BCHL. Their season is generating plenty of buzz in the South Okanagan but the players aren’t getting caught up.
“After we broke our franchise record (17 straight), it became a big deal in town,” said Harbinson. “But I never saw the demeanor change in our guys or in our room; that’s what I’m most pleased about.”
The teams play Friday, Feb. 3 in Penticton and if that goes the Vees’ way, they’ll have a chance to set the record Tuesday, Feb. 7 in Chilliwack.