Vees give future outlook

Colton Davies

The Penticton Vees held an end-of-season news conference on Tuesday where they gave an indication on the outlook of the team next year and beyond.

The Vees announced a contract extension for head coach, general manager and president Fred Harbinson to the end of the 2023-24 season. Harbinson has been with team for 11 seasons and his contract was set to expire next spring.

The team also named Massimo Rizzo its captain for 2017-18. Rizzo, who turns 17 next month, just completed a rookie season where he totalled 13 goals and 38 points in 50 games, before adding four goals and 10 points in 11 playoff games. He joined the Vees late in 2016-17 as a 15-year-old, and played seven playoff games as well as every game of the Western Canada Cup and RBC Cup.

The Burnaby native Rizzo was a first round WHL draft pick to the Kamloops Blazers in 2016, and there was speculation he might pursue the WHL route after a season in the BCHL. He said the decision was one he thought long and hard about, and said there wasn't a bad choice.

"I had an amazing experience (last year) and definitely have gotten better and developed, so I'm looking forward to next year and hopefully to improve things. And that's kind of why I chose to come back," he said. 

Rizzo told the crowd at the news conference he's grateful to be named captain, and said he's "excited with the group of guys we have next season, and I'm looking forward to lead them to a championship."

The Vees also announced Cassidy Bowes and Ryan Sandelin, both 19-year-old forwards, will be two of the alternate captains next season. Two others will be named at a later date.

Having spent 11 years in Penticton, Harbinson is the longest-tenured coach by a long shot in the BCHL, the next closest being Rylan Ferster in West Kelowna at six years.

"I came here in 2007-08, probably thought it would be a one-year thing, and the job's grown into something pretty special, something I'm proud of, where the organization's at as a whole," Harbinson said.

"If it wasn't for the ownership, I would've been gone a long time ago probably," he continued, referring to majority owners Graham and Sue Fraser. "A lot of the times you have to continue to move on for different reasons, they've taken a lot of the different equations out of it.

"I'm not saying that I don't have aspirations, but it has to be the right thing. A lot of times I've talked to teams at so-called higher levels and maybe our philosophical ideas just don't line up. Graham and Sue have made this a good place to coach."

Director of corporate partnerships David Michaud also announced the team will continue its partnership with Peter's Bros Construction, which sponsors admission for all fans aged 18 and under. Michaud added ticket prices will remain the same next season.


Ex-Vee signs NHL contract

Former Penticton Vees standout Travis St. Denis has inked his first NHL contract.

The 25-year-old signed a two-year, two-way contract with the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

The contract comes after two full seasons in the minors for St. Denis, playing with the Islander's farm team the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

He led the Sound Tigers with 23 goals and 44 points this season.

St. Denis played one memorable season with the Vees in 2011-12. In his 20-year-old season, he racked up 37 goals and 88 points in 54 games, and helped Penticton win the Fred Page Cup, Doyle Cup and RBC Cup. 

From Trail, St. Denis played four full seasons in the BCHL — the first three with his hometown Trail Smoke Eaters — before spending four years with Quinnipiac University in the NCAA ranks.

Financial terms of the St. Denis' contract were not disclosed.

Three commit to Warriors

The West Kelowna Warriors have received commitments from three players for the upcoming 2018-2019 BC Hockey League season.

Forward Sam Anderson and defenceman Declan Douthart, both 16, and 16-year-old forward Brandon Dent have all formally committed to the team for next season.

In 40 games with the Major Midget Cariboo Cougars last season, Dent had 24 goals and 35 assists. He was second in team scoring and sixth in the league.

Despite his size, 5'6", 135 pounds, Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster says he plays a hard, aggressive style on both sides of the puck.

"Her's a skilled, heads up kind of player that will fit in very well to our lineup," said Ferster.

Anderson played the past two seasons with the AAA midget Calgary Buffaloes. In 66 games over two seasons he scored 25 goals and added 33 assists, as well as seven points over 12 playoff games.

The 5'9" forward was captain of the Buffaloes last season.

"Sam plays all three zones of the ice extremely well, and has terrific hockey sense," said Ferster.

"Being captain of the Buffaloes last season, Sam possesses outstanding leadership qualities as well."

Douthart, a Winnipeg native, has spent the past three seasons with the Pursuit of Excellence program in Kelowna.

 He had two goals and seven assists in 22 games with the midget prep squad last season.

Douthart also suited up for one game with the Warriors, game four of the playoff series with Trail.

"Declan is someone who makes a good first pass out of his zone, and has plenty of offensive upside.

"He's a slick skater, and can make an immediate impact in our league."

All three took part in last weekend's spring camp, and all are expected to join the club when training camp opens at the end of August.


Vee named to Team Canada

Penticton Vees’ defenceman Jonny Tychonick is headed to Russia to play for Team Canada in the World Under-18 Championships.

The Calgary native wrapped up his second season with the Vees with nine goals and 38 assists in 48 games — doubling his offensive production from his rookie season.

He last represented Canada at World Junior A Challenge earlier this year in Nova Scotia.

Tychonick is ranked 45th among North American skaters on the most recent NHL Central Scouting list.

He is just the sixth CJHL player since 2002 to play for Canada at the World Under-18 Championships.

Vees eliminated in game 7

The Penticton Vees ended their season at home Monday night with a 4 - 2 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters in game seven of the BCHL Interior Division finals.

Despite outshooting the Smokies 37 - 29, the Vees trailed the entire game, never recovering from a 3 - 0 deficit the the second period.

Trail was led by forward Ross Armour, who tallied two goals and an assist, good for the games first star.

Over 4,300 fans turned out to support the Vees at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

“To the fans of Vees Nation, thank you for the unprecedented support during the 17-18 season. You’re the best fans in Jr. hockey,” the team tweeted shortly after the loss.

Trail moves on to play the Wenatchee Wild in the next round.