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Trio of Vees look back on time in Penticton
Shane McColgan, Ben Dalpe and Chris Rygus loved being Penticton Vees.
McColgan's time as a Vee was the shortest of the trio, playing in 24 regular season and playoff games combined. After Vernon Viper forward Michael McNicholas's overtime goal knocked the Vees from the playoffs last weekend, McColgan was on the ice thinking that time flies when you play junior hockey.
"I remember when I was 15, my roommate at the time, he told me every year goes by faster and faster," said McColgan of when he was with the Kelowna Rockets. "Just enjoy every minute of it."
Still feeling the emotions of the loss on Monday before the Vees had their exit interviews, McColgan said he was injured during the playoffs but battled through it. He wanted to end his final junior season on top.
"I'm proud to finish my career here in Penticton," said McColgan, who had three goals and 12 points in 16 games and added two goals and seven points in eight playoffs matches.
McColgan, who signed with the Vees as a free agent at the Jan.10 deadline and joined by Erik Benoit, is hoping to make the jump to pro, perhaps in Europe. He said once he speaks to his agent, he will have a better idea about his future. McColgan has five games of American Hockey League experience under his belt with the Connecticut Whale, the New York Rangers affiliate in 2011-12, and said it was great. He lived with family for six weeks and also played in one NHL exhibition game with the Rangers.
"I played one NHL game. I was pretty thankful for that," said McColgan, who was told at the time he was one of the best guys in camp. "It was pretty cool to play against guys like (Zach) Parise and (Ilya) Kovaluchk. Hopefully I will get the chance to do that again one day."
In his time with the Vees, McColgan said he became a better person and has a good relationship with Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson through former Vee Beau Bennett.
McColgan's best moment as a Vee was seeing Brad McClure scoring the overtime goal against the Salmon Arm SilverBacks to clinch the division.
Dalpe said his time with the Vees was amazing.
"It was fun looking back, especially with this group of guys. Very tight-knit group," he said.
Dalpe enjoyed playing in the South Okanagan Events Centre each weekend for supportive crowds he said were, "awesome." Among the highlights for him was the home opener and road trips. He also enjoyed the playoffs, despite them not advancing further.
Dalpe, who turned 20 on March 8, said he improved defensively as a player and is excited to join Clarkson University next fall. He said they have a good program and are coming off a strong season.
Rygus enjoyed having his final season of junior hockey.
"It's been an amazing experience for sure," said Rygus, who faced the Vees during its RBC Cup-winning season with the Woodstock Slammers.
Among his highlights were the road trips and preparing for games and being part of the positive attitude players brought each day.
"This year I learned a lot from this group of guys," said Rygus, who will join Dalpe at Clarkson University. "I'm honoured to be a Penticton Vee."