It was a November to remember in another edition of Vees in the season.
Traditionally, the Vees would be in the thick of the BCHL season. Still, with COVID-19, the league took a different approach in playing tournament-style for teams within close proximity, which in essence was an extended training camp.
It was a jam-packed month for the Peach City, which started with a trophy celebration.
With the extended training, the BCHL created a tournament called the Okanagan Cup, which got underway in September before coming to an end this month. The Penticton Vees found themselves in the final against the Vernon Vipers after punching their ticket in a semifinal against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
With the Vipers taking a one-goal lead in the first period of the championship game on November 14, Tristan Amonte evened things up after the opening 20 minutes. After a goalless second, Matteo Costantini gave the Vees a 2-1 lead before Will Arquiett scored for Vernon to send the game to overtime.
Extra time was needed, one last goal and a hero would emerge. Less than two minutes into overtime Jacob Quillan answered the call and ended the first-ever Okanagan Cup to the delight of Penticton fans watching from afar.
Off the ice, former Vees goalie Jack LaFontaine was named assistant captain with the Golden Gophers of Minnesota. At the same time, Owen Sillinger, another Vees alumnus, was named to the media preseason All-WCHA team.
A few Vees who played with the team in 2019-20 made their collegiate hockey debuts.
Former captain David Silye suited up for Clarkson University. Lukas Sillinger and his brother Owen suited up for the Bemidji State Beavers. Evan McIntyre made his debut for Ohio State, joining Ryan O’Connell. Meanwhile, Nico Somerville will play for the American International College men’s ice hockey team in his debut.
A handful of current Vees also cemented their signature in collegiate hockey this month. Ryan McGuire, Liam Malmquist, Ethan Martini, Ben Wozney, Luc Wilson, Owen Murray, and Costantini all put pen to paper on each of their respective National Letters of Intent to play NCAA hockey after their time in Penticton is done.
This month, the Vees also dipped into the trade market, acquiring defenseman Philippe Chapleau from College Francais of the Quebec Junior Hockey League, in exchange for future considerations.
The team also announced the signing of defenseman Owen Forfellow for the upcoming season. The Abbotsford native played for the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds and added 24 points on 33 games in 2019-20. However, this move forced the Vees to make another, and they released defenseman Jason Marsella.
With the World Juniors around the corner (fingers crossed), Swiss native Stefano Bottini was named to the 34 player selection camp with the team set to play in Edmonton next month.
NEWS: Vees forward Stefano Bottini ('02) has been selected as one of 34 players to take part in the @SwissIceHockey Under-20 selection camp ahead of the World Junior Hockey Championships!
— Penticton Vees (@PentictonVees) November 23, 2020
With the extended preseason over, the BCHL regular season was set to start on December 2, but due to the provincial COVID-19 safety measures, the league postponed the start to December 8.
However, the BCHL announced on November 28 that a player on the Vees tested positive for COVID-19 the day before. So the team is now in a two week period of quarantining, meaning the earliest Penticton will likely start the season is December 12. All billets, team personnel, and staff who were in contact with the player will also receive a COVID-19 test.
It was great to have BCHL hockey back these past few months, but now (hopefully) the real season begins in just a few more days.