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Penticton Vees’ historic BCHL run ends with Game 6 loss to Surrey

South Okanagan team was two wins short of a ‘three-peat’
Members of the Penticton Vees watch the Surrey Eagles celebrate their BCHL title win on May 26, at the South Okanagan Events after Game 6 of the 2024 Fred Page Cup Finals. (Cherie Morgan photo)

The Penticton Vees season ended on May 26, when the Surrey Eagles came into the South Okanagan Events Centre and won Game 6 of the BCHL Finals to capture their first Fred Page Cup in 11 years.

After winning back-to-back titles in 2022 and 2023, the Vees were unable to force a Game 7 and go for the coveted “three-peat” as they fell 3-1 on Sunday afternoon to the Lower Mainland squad.

Surrey will now head to the inaugural Rocky Mountain Challenge and battle the Alberta-based Brooks Bandits in a best-of-three series.

“Congratulations to Surrey on a great playoff run and season,” said Matt Miller, the Vees’ director of hockey operations.

“From top to bottom, they did a phenomenal job. Cam Keith (Surrey head coach and general manager) and his staff put a great team together. We did everything right but just couldn’t finish, which was the storyline of our playoffs. Proud of how our group competed right to the end. We came so far from September with just two returning players.”

Penticton found itself down 2-0 after two periods of play on Sunday, as they were unable to beat Surrey goaltender Ajeet Gundarah until late in the third period.

The Eagles netminder made 35 saves in Game 6 and stopped the last 66 of 67 shots he faced in the series, dating back to Game 5.

Connor MacPherson scored the Vees’ lone goal at 17:47 of the third period after the Eagles’ Jagjeevan Phangura extended his team’s lead to 3-0 early in the final frame.

Penticton’s 2023-2024 campaign began in September, as the team entered the season with just two returning players from last year’s Fred Page Cup-winning squad.

After winning the Interior Conference’s regular-season title for the 12th time in a row, the Vees topped the Prince George Spruce Kings, Vernon Vipers and Salmon Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the playoffs en route to another BCHL Finals appearance.

Penticton’s most memorable playoff win came on May 14, in Game 7 of the third round against Salmon Arm, when the team scored two goals in the game’s final 13 seconds to take a 4-3 lead and advance to the finals.

The Vees were looking to become the first team since Vernon from 2009 to 2011, to win three straight BCHL titles.

A total of 3,254 people were at the SOEC on Sunday to watch Surrey claim the Fred Page Cup in Penticton’s final home game of the season.

READ MORE: Penticton Vees complete ‘special’ comeback, advance to BCHL Finals

About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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