As the world navigates through the global pandemic, the BCHL 2019-2020 is canceled.
The Vees were in midst of what many hoped would be a deep playoff run. When the season paused, the Vees had already booked their ticket to the second round of the playoffs, where they would have hosted the Vernon Vipers in a series dubbed the Highway 97 series.
Before the playoffs and regular season, the Vees preparations for the 2019-20 campaign were underway in August with training camp, which was held at the South Okanagan Events Centre. This season included former first-rounder and current Philadelphia Flyers prospect Jay O’Brien. O’Brien wanted to find his game again after suffering an injury the previous year while in college. He was advised by many that the BCHL may be a better option for continued development.
Along with O’Brien and a plethora of players with strong bloodlines whose fathers suited up in the NHL such as Jack Barnes, Danny Weight, Lukas Sillinger, Jackson Niedermayer, and Tristan Amonte. The Vees started out of the gate on an 11-0 run which came to end at the hands of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. During the eleven game winning streak, the offense ran wild and combined for 50 goals, lead by the fab five and O’Brien.
Following the 11-0 stretch, the next 20 wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Although they played above .500 hockey, the Vees leaned heavily on their hot start and went 11-8-1 during those 20 games. However, in a tilt against the Wenatchee Wild on December 4th, O’Brien suffered an injury in a 4-3 losses which may have ignited a fire in the rest of the squad. O’Brien missed a total of 12 games but the Vees managed well without his services, going 9-2-1. Despite the injury, O’Brien led the Vees in scoring with 66 points in 46 games at the end of the season and was tied with Weight in goals with 25.
Ninth straight division title
Towards the end of the regular season, the Vees managed another massive win streak but this time around it was ten games, which put a stranglehold on the Interior Division. The Vees were rolling into the playoffs and were poised to make a deep run, capturing their ninth straight division title while coming up six points shy of the Coquitlam Express for first in the BCHL.
During the regular season, the Vees only had a total of 12 regulation losses, one overtime loss, and one shootout loss. With 44 wins the Vees enjoyed one of their more dominating seasons in recent memory, picking up 90 points for the first time since the 2015-16 season when Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro donned the sweater.
Ending the regular season with a nine-game homestand, the Vees went 8-1 and were ready to host the West Kelowna Warriors in the post-season. The playoffs began on February 27th and the Vees thrashed the Warriors in the opening three games by a combined score of 20-4 to build a 3-0 series lead.
With their backs against the wall and at home, the Warriors dug deep and won game four, forcing a fifth game back at the South Okanagan Events Centre. In a back and forth affair that went into overtime, the Warriors gave it their all but the Vees scored early in the extra frame to claim the series in five games.
As the team was practicing and preparing for the second round against Vernon, news broke that the league and Hockey Canada would be on pause and eventually cancel the remainder of the playoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing to an end a Vees season to remember.