New coach comes to Vees

A new face is joining the Penticton Vees as the new season approaches.

Jason Becker will be the club’s new assistant coach for the 2016-2017 season.

Becker’s hiring follows the sudden resignation of former assistant coach Nick Fuher last week.

Fuher was with the club for two seasons, but left to join an academy in Winnipeg.

The Vees’ new assistant coach is coming from the Okanagan Hockey Academy, where he spent the last two seasons.

He was assistant coach for the Prince George Cougars in the WHL prior to the Okanagan academy.

Becker’s career also includes five years as a WHL defenceman and a nine-year professional career, in which he played nearly 450 games – mostly overseas.

Vees head coach Fred Harbinson said Becker was an easy pick for the team.

“When Nick decided to leave the club, we immediately focused on Jason,” he said.

“Ownership afforded me the opportunity to hire an experienced coach, and we didn’t feel the need to search elsewhere, or publicly state we were looking for someone. I felt right from the get go that Jason would be a tremendous fit for us.”

Becker said he is looking forward to working with the team, which he said is “filled with a rich history.”

“I’m very honoured and excited to be joining the Vees organization,” he said. “This is a very important season as we host the Western Canada Cup. I can’t wait to get started and meet the players.”

Training camp for the team opens up on Aug. 22 at the South Okanagan Events Centre, with the Vees opening up their season on Sept. 10 in Prince George.


Boom lowered on Brooks

The Alberta Junior Hockey League champion Brooks Bandits have been hit hard for their behaviour during the RBC Cup semi-final against the West Kelowna Warriors.

A dozen members of the Bandits were ejected during the third period of the semi-final, won by the Warriors 4-1.

Bandits head coach Ryan Papaioannou was one of those sent to the showers early.

They had just nine players left for the post-game ceremony and handshakes.

Papaioannou was handed a 15-game suspension for his actions, while assistant coach Scott Cunningham will serve a five-game suspension.

The suspensions will be served at the start of next season.

The Bandits were also fined $15,000. It's also believed their antics hindered the club's bid to host the 2017 RBC Cup.

Chilliwack was awarded that event.

The Bandits lost their cool in the third when a goal, initially called a good goal, was waived off. The goal would have cut the deficit to 3-2.

Instead, two minor penalties moments later led to a power-play goal giving the Warriors a three-goal lead.

The parade to the penalty box began soon after.

"The discipline is meant to deter similar conduct with other teams and personnel from across the CJHL in the future," the CJHL said in a news release.

Warriors open with Trail

The West Kelowna Warriors will raise several banners to the rafters of Royal LePage Place Sept. 9.

That's the night the reigning BCHL and RBC Cup champion Warriors will kick off the 2016-2017 regular season against the Trail Smoke Eaters.

The entire 58-game schedule was released Thursday.

The Warriors will play 28 games at home, a majority of those on weekends. The home schedule includes 10 Friday, nine Saturday, two Sunday, six Tuesday and one Thursday date.

There's one change to the schedule this year - Sunday games will start at 2 p.m. as opposed to 2:30 in previous years.

The Warriors will face off against their Interior Division rivals 34 times, 17 at home and 17 on the road.

In a quirk of the schedule, they will face Interior rivals 11 times at home over the course of the first three months, while only making four trips to rival rinks over the same period. The Warriors don't venture into Vernon until Dec. 2 and Penticton Jan. 11.

They will host Vernon and Penticton four times each, with Merritt, Trail and Salmon Arm coming to RLP three times each.

One date to mark on the calendar is Tuesday, Oct. 4 when the Chilliwack Chiefs come to town in a rematch of last season's BCHL final.

The Warriors and Chiefs will also kickoff the annual Bauer Showcase at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack Wednesday, Sept. 21. They will also take on Coquitlam the following afternoon to close out their Showcase obligation.


Warriors name new captain

Steady, rock-solid defenceman Nick Rutigliano will wear the "C" for the West Kelowna Warriors next season.

Rutigliano, 20, will succeed Kyle Marino, who captained the team during their RBC Cup championship run.

Marino graduated from the club after after his junior eligibility expired.

The Shrewsbury, Mass., native was overjoyed after hearing the news.

“I’m extremely excited and it’s a tremendous honour to be selected captain of the West Kelowna Warriors. I would like to thank the coaching staff and our owner for giving me the opportunity to wear the C," said Rutigliano.

"I’ve learned so much from previous players and teammates on what it takes to lead a team, most notably our captain last year, Kyle Marino. After winning a national championship the team is excited for another successful and great season."

Head coach Rylan Ferster said Rutigliano has all the qualities to be a great leader.

"He carries himself like a pro on and off the ice," said Ferster.

Rutigliano had 24 points in 58 regular season games last season.

Rutigliano and the Warriors begin defence of the RBC Cup in September.

Chilliwack gets RBC Cup

The Chilliwack Chiefs have won the right to host the 2018 RBC Cup.

Hockey Canada made the announcement Tuesday, according to the Chiefs' website.

Chilliwack, Brooks, Alta., and Yorkton, Sask., all put in bids to host the 2018 national Junior A championship.

“We are grateful to Hockey Canada for the opportunity to host this world-class event and share with the rest of Canada the community our Chiefs have called home for over two decades,” said Glen Ringdal, president of the Chiefs and Prospera Centre.

“I am excited by the partnerships we are developing in our community that, like in the success of our bid, will contribute to a successful and memorable Hockey Canada event.”

The bidding process began in October of last year.

According to the Chiefs, studies of previous RBC Cups indicate the city could realize an economic benefit of between $2 million and $4 million.

The estimated economic impact was $2.8 million in Prince Edward Island with $1.9 million occurring in Summerside, the host city in 2013; and $3.1 million in economic activity in Manitoba with $2.2 million having occurred in the City of Dauphin in 2010.

Lloydminster, Sask., hosted the 2016 RBC Cup, won by the West Kelowna Warriors.

“I want to thank the leaders of our city’s bid committee for their efforts and congratulate the people of Chilliwack on their part in securing this exciting event for our community," said Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

"Hosting the 2018 RBC Cup presents an incredible opportunity for each of us to be involved in creating the economic and social benefits this championship will bring.”

The 2018 RBC Cup will take place from May 12 to 18 at Prospera Centre.

The 2017 event will be held in Cobourg, Ont.

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