The Penticton Vees, after an amazing season which included a 42-game winning streak, have one goal left.
That's to win the RBC Cup in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. It's a five-team tournament starting Saturday and the winner is recognized as the national junior A champion in Canada.
Why should anyone in Minnesota care? There are at least nine good reasons.
Mike and Ryan Reilly, two brothers from Chanhassen, are among the Vees' players. And both will be Gophers next season along with another brother Connor, sidelined for the playoffs by knee surgery.
Mario Lucia, the son of the Gophers' head coach Don Lucia, is one of the Vees' top scorers.
Also on the team are Joey Benik of St. Francis, Steve Fogarty of Edina and defensemen D.J. Jones of Plymouth and Chad Bannor of Hermantown.
Even the Vees' coach, Fred Harkinson, has state ties. He was a St. Cloud State assistant coach for five seasons.
Opening ceremonies in the RBC Cup will be held Friday. A story on the RBC Cup from the StarPhoenix of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is here.
The final team in the field was determined on Sunday. The Woodstock Slammers of New Brunswick edged Nepean 3-2 for the Fred Page Cup and a chance to represent the East in the RBC Cup.
Here is the RBC Cup schedule:
Soo Thunderbirds (Ontario), Dudley Cup champions (Central region)
Penticton Vees (British Columbia), BCHL and Dudley Cup champions (Pacific), 3 p.m.
Humboldt Broncos (Saskatchewan), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and Anavet Cup champions (host)
Woodstock Slammers (New Brunswick), Fred Page Cup champions (East) , 7:30 p.m.
Soo (Central) vs. Portage Terriers (Manitoba), Manitoba Junior Hockey League champions (West), 3 p.m.
Penticton (Pacific) vs. Humboldt (host), 7:30 p.m.
Monday, May 7
Woodbury (East) vs. Portage (West), 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 8
Humboldt (host) vs. Soo (Central), 3 p.m.
Penticton (Pacific) vs. Woodstock (East), 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 9
Portage (West) vs. Penticton (Pacific), 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 10
Woodstock (East) vs. Soo ( Central), 3 p.m.
Portage (West) vs. Humboldt (host), 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 12
Semifinals, 2 and 6 p.m.
Sunday, May 13
Championship, 7 p.m.
Joey Benik and Mario Lucia are second and third on the Vees in playoff scoring. Both have played in every Vees' games in the playoff, which is 15. Here are the Vees playoff stats:
Goals Assists Pts. College
Benik 8 10 18 St. Cloud State
Lucia 6 10 16 Notre Dame
M. Reilly 1 8 9 Gophers
Fogarty 4 4 8 Notre Dame
R. Reilly 3 4 7 Gophers
Jones 0 3 3 Army
Bannor 0 0 0 ---
M. Reilly Injured Gophers
OTHER STATE CONNECTIONS
Seven of the eight Minnesotans on the Vees are going on to Division I programs. So are 16 of the 21 total players on the team.
Two are going to Minnesota State Mankato. They are forward Bryce Gervais of Battlefords, Sask., and defenseman Nick Buchanon of Victoria, B.C.
The other Division I programs who have gotten commitment from one Vees player are Denver and Nebraska Omaha of the WCHA, Penn State, which will start as an independent next season and join the Big Ten in two seasons.
Quinnipiac also has commitment from two Vees, Merrimack and UMass-Lowell from one.
There are 133 junior A teams in Canada -- a notch below major juniors in Canada where players are paid and thus become ineligible to play Division I. Junior A players don't get paid.
The RBC is a prestigious event. Cities bid for it. Humboldt is holding it for the second time in 25 years.