(ISN) – After opening the RBC Cup with a pair of losses, the Penticton Vees started to win when it mattered, including Sunday’s championship final, where they received a power play goal from Joey Benik with 51 seconds to play, to defeat the Woodstock Slammers 4-3 and capture the Junior “A” National Championship.
After taking a 2-0 lead in the first period, the Vees found themselves down 3-2 early in the third. A Bryce Gervais goal tied it at 11:10 of the final frame setting the stage for Benik.
Travis St. Denis and Steven Fogarty each had a goal and an assist for the Vees while Mike Reilly had two helpers.
The road to the Cup was not easy for the Vees, who found themselves 0-2 after their first two games of the tournament dropping games to the Soo 2-1 and Humbolt 3-2. They then eked out a 2-1 win over Woodstock and a 3-1 win over Portage to earn a berth in the semi-finals.
In the semis the Vees got a first-period marker from Wade Murphy that proved to be the winner in a 3-0 victory over the Soo Thunderbirds. Logan Johnston and Curtis Loik, with an empty-netter, tallied in the third. Michael Garteig made 20 saves for the shutout.
The win gives the the national championship to a BCHL team for the third time in four years with the Vernon Vipers winning in 2009 and 2010. For the Penticton franchise, this is their first national title since 1986 when the Penticton Knights won it all.
At Friday’s RBC Awards Banquet, Penticton’s Troy Stecher (Richmond, B.C.) took home the tournament’s Top Defenceman trophy while fellow blueliner Kyle Beaulieu (White Rock, B.C.) was honoured with a $500 RBC Cup Legacy Scholarship.
The Vees will host their own year-end celebration and awards night from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 16 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.