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‘Surreal:’ Former Penticton Vees head coach lifts Stanley Cup with Vegas

‘You always dream about it, but never think it will actually happen,’ said scout Bruno Campese
Scout and original member of the Vegas Golden Knights Bruno Campese lifting the Stanley Cup at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, following the team’s 9-3 series-clinching victory against the Florida Panthers. (Courtesy of Penticton Vees/Facebook)

Lifting the Stanley Cup — a childhood dream for many and something thousands have struggled to put into words after it actually happens.

Bruno Campese is no exception.

The Penticton Vees head coach from 2004 to 2007 was on the ice to raise the Stanley Cup Tuesday, June 13, after the Vegas Golden Knights’ 9-3 series-clinching victory against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena.

Campese, a Golden Knights scout and original member of the six-year-old expansion franchise, was also a goaltender for the Penticton Knights as a teenager from 1979 to 1981.

“It’s surreal, to be honest with you,” the scout said about raising hockey’s most coveted trophy. “To get onto the ice, be up and close to the Stanley Cup and have the opportunity to lift it with all the people I’ve spent so much time with…so tough to put into words.

“‘You always dream about it, but never think it will actually happen.”

Following his time as a player and coach in the BCHL, WHL, NCAA and European professional leagues, the Nelson-born scout returned to Penticton and worked at the Okanagan Hockey Academy.

A phone call and subsequent job offer from Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon in 2016 changed his career trajectory once again.

It made him one of the first amateur scouts to ever be employed by the expansion franchise.

“When the opportunity came up, it was an easy choice,” Campese said. I didn’t want to turn down being in the NHL to work on a team from the ground up.”

Campese, who lives in West Kelowna, is currently assigned to scout the western-region amateurs for the NHL franchise.

In conversation with the Western News, he says he still keeps up with the Vees.

“Fred (Harbinson) has done a great job,” he said of his successor behind the Penticton bench. “The Vees have been super successful, I’ve been a number of times this season and still keep in touch with the people I worked with at OHA.”

The Golden Knights finished the 2022-2023 regular season with the best record in the Western Conference (52-22-9). They downed the Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars and Panthers in the playoffs en route to their first Stanley Cup victory.

After he takes part in the Knights’ Stanley Cup Parade on Saturday along the iconic Las Vegas strip, the former Vees coach will head to the 2023 NHL Draft, set for June 28 and 29 in Nashville, Tenn.

READ MORE: Viva Las Vegas! Golden Knights hammer Florida 9-3, win 2023 Stanley Cup

READ MORE: Canada’s World Hockey Championship win has a Penticton connection


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