From the belly of the South Okanagan Events Centre a deep bellow of “Gooooo Veeeees!” fills the rink.
“If I don’t say it enough people complain to me,” said Vees faithful Lyle Brant.
The super fan, who has supported Penticton junior A hockey since 2001, when the team was known as the Panthers, admits the deep holler that he has become known for developed over time. He is sure to pick propitious times for the rallying cry.
“I quite often like to do it right after a face-off. The puck gets dropped and I will quite often scream it. Every now and then I will get an egging from my wife (Kelly) to say ‘Gooooo Veeeees!”
Brant also hits the road to support the Vees and isn’t shy about belting it out.
“When I yell the ‘Gooooo Veeeees!’, it really stands out,” said Brant, who traveled to Humboldt, Sask., to cheer his team when they won the 2012 RBC Cup. “I like doing it.”
Brant, a season-ticket holder and jersey sponsor, loves watching the team.
“We’re blessed with a team that wins a lot. It’s always good to watch a winning team,” he said, with Kelly nearby wearing her pink Sexton jersey.
When asked about the fan support, Brant said it was amazing, especially with the last two games in the Vernon series attracting more than 6,200 fans from both sides.
Brant wasn’t the only fan in the SOEC giving support in their own way. Darlene Luhowy arrived for the game against the Nanaimo Clippers in time to watch the pre-game skate. Standing near the glass on the Vees end, Luhowy held a sign wishing Riley Alferd a happy 20th birthday. She does that for all the players. Luhowy began supporting the Vees when they moved from Memorial Arena to the SOEC. She has also logged a few kilometers to get her Vees fix. The only BCHL rinks she hasn’t seen are in Coquitlam, Prince George, Victoria and Powell River.
“I like watching the Vees better on the road than at home,” said Luhowy, wearing her Vees home jersey with 52 on the back and all the player signatures from the 2012 RBC Cup-winning team on the front. “We always sit right behind them. You really get to know them.”
To Luhowy the players are personable and she sees that the fans mean a lot to them. She believes this group Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson has assembled is a close-knit bunch.
“You can tell that on the ice,” said Luhowy, who credited Harbinson and his staff for that.
Luhowy has liked what she has seen during this playoff push.
“I always said if they got through our division, we will be going to Fort McMurray (for the Western Canada Cup) and on to Manitoba (Portage hosts the RBC Cup). We are going to that,” she said.
Whenever the Vees have scored at home, along with the red light reminding the visiting goaltender that he has been burned, another red light spins in the building. It’s located in front of the Vault and sits on Danny Moore’s head. Moore, a fan for the last eight years, picked up a Budweiser Red Light helmet for $20 at a Royal Canadian Legion auction. On the front of the helmet he has a Vees sticker on it. He’s enjoyed the playoffs saying, “it’s been a nail biter.”
“It’s good, that they got to this point,” he said during the Nanaimo game. “I’m hoping for better things.”