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New wave of attack for Vees

The Penticton Vees added a new wave of attack, announcing the signing of forward Ocean Weisblatt on Thursday.

Weisblatt, who turns 19 on Jan. 4, has spent the past year and a half with the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

The Bandits won the Western Canada Cup in Penticton last year before losing in the finals in overtime in the RBC Cup national championship.

Weisblatt missed all of that action last year due to injury. He got into 14 games, putting up three goals, five points and 22 penalty minutes.

This season, Weisblatt had two goals and eight points in 28 games with the Bandits, as well as 48 penalty minutes.

He's committed to play NCAA Division I hockey next season at the University of Vermont.

“Ocean will add energy to our lineup. He’s 18 years old and has a lot of room to grow," Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson said in a news release. 

Weisblatt is the oldest of four brothers — his siblings are named Orca, Ozzy and Oasiz.

He will debut with the Vees on Friday when the team visits the West Kelowna Warriors, wearing number 27.





Championship rings stolen

Thieves have made off with two national Junior A championship rings belonging to West Kelowna Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster.

The rings were stolen from inside Ferster's truck sometime late last Saturday night, or early Sunday morning.

The truck was parked in front of his home on Francis Avenue in Kelowna. The theft was discovered Sunday morning.

The stolen rings were the 1990 Centennial Cup ring Ferster won as a member of the then Vernon Lakers, and the 2016 RBC Cup ring he captured as head coach of the Warriors.

The Centennial Cup was the national Jr. A championship until 1995 when it was renamed the RBC Cup.

The 1990 ring has the Vernon Lakers logo on the side, while the 2016 version features the Warriors logo on the face and Triple Crown on one side.

Both rings have Ferster's name engraved on them.

When asked which one was more special, Ferster said both for different reasons, although he admits he appreciated the 2016 championship more because he was able to appreciate the sacrifices more at an older age.

"I really feel bad because I promised the rings to my daughters, and they have already picked out the one they want," he said.

"I guess that means I'll have to get them replaced."

Or, get them returned.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of these rings, contact Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300.



Teddy's will fly in West K

It'll be raining plushies at Royal LePage Place Friday night, when the West Kelowna Warriors host their 12th annual Teddy Bear Toss.

Fans attending Friday's game between the Warriors and Penticton Vees are asked to bring a new, or gently used stuffed animal to the game.

When the Warriors score their first goal, fans are encouraged to toss their toys on the ice.

Mamas for Mamas will be on hand to collect the stuffed animals and distribute them to their charities.

The last time the Vees and Warriors met in a teddy bear toss game at Royal LePage Place, the Warriors snapped a scoreless tie with two minutes left.

Friday's game will also be televised live, valley wide, on Shaw TV.

It's the first time Shaw has broadcast a Warriors game live.

“The Teddy Bear Toss is always such a special night on the calendar for everyone,” said director of business operations Alex Draper. “Having Shaw TV on board with us this year to broadcast the game makes an already great night even better.”



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Vees nearing Xmas break

Colton Davies

Like all good things, the Penticton Vees winning streak came to an end — reaching 12 games before a 4-0 shutout loss on the road to the Vernon Vipers on Saturday night.

The Vees entered that contest two points back of the Vipers for first overall in the B.C. Junior Hockey League standings.

They came up empty on the scoreboard for the first time this season, and were outshot 36-20 in what was the Vipers' teddy bear toss game at Kal Tire Place.

"I take a lot of blame on myself, for not getting the guys emotionally charged up," said Fred Harbinson, Vees head coach, general manager and president. 

Saturday's game ended a stretch of 12 games in 25 nights for Penticton. The team went 11-1 in that time.

"You have to give the guys credit for that streak. It's tough the way it ended, but now you have to regroup and get ready for the final two games before break.

"Anybody that has been in this league... understands that you get back after Christmas, and all of a sudden in the blink of an eye, you're getting ready for playoffs."

Prior to Saturday's setback, the Vees won an 11th straight game on Dec. 6 with a convincing 5-1 home win against Salmon Arm. Their 12th came on Friday, in another strong performance at home to earn a 5-2 win against West Kelowna.

The Vees' win streak proved not to be cheaper by the dozen, as the team suffered a tough blow on Friday when co-captain Grant Cruikshank exited in the first period with a broken ankle.

Cruikshank joined veteran Chris Klack on the team's injured list. If there's a bright spot there, it's that the Vees will have nearly two weeks off from game action following this weekend's matches.

Penticton visits West Kelowna on Friday, for the sixth and final regular season meeting between those teams, before hosting Nanaimo at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Saturday in the team's teddy bear toss night.



Warriors fall to Smokies

You don't win many hockey games when you find yourself chasing the game for much of the night.

That's the fate that befell the West Kelowna Warriors Saturday in a 5-3 defeat at the hand of the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters.

The Warriors found themselves tied or trailing for more than two full periods, and were unable to find the goal they needed when they needed it.

They had the better of the play for most of the final 40 minutes, but did everything but put the puck past Smokies netminder Adam Marcoux.

"I thought we played a pretty good hockey game tonight, but we just gifted them goals. It's unfortunate," said Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster.

"Two nights in a row I thought we gave the other teams goals. It's just not good enough. We played two very good team, but we don't give ourselves a chance, and when I say that I mean giving them free goals."

Ferster said the Warriors gift wrapped two of their goals Saturday...the difference in the game.

"It's got to stop."

The Warriors opened the scoring six minutes in on a power play when Lucas Cullen found the back of the net from the right circle, but just 23 seconds later, the Smokies tied it on a similar shot from almost the same spot.

Jared Marino restored the one-goal lead eight minutes later on another power play, when he tipped home Wyatt Head's shot from the edge of the crease.

But, three straight goals by the Smokies in the second, two on the power play and the back breaker with the Smokies a man short off a Warriors giveaway, put Trail up by two.

Michael Lombardi. who could have had three or four on his own, finally got one in the final minute to cut the deficit to a single goal.

The Warriors had numerous chances to tie it in the third, the best off the stick of Willie Reim, who rang one off the cross bar after stealing the puck deep inside the Smoke Eaters end of the ice.

"I thought we had some good looks. It's hard to be mad at our overall game.

"We've like our structure the last two nights. But when we gift them a shorty, and on the penalty kill have a defenceman take the puck down and turn it over and they score, you don't deserve to win those games."

An empty net goal from Braeden Tuck sealed it with 4.3 seconds left.

The Warriors have now lost two in a row and five of their last six to sit seven points behind fourth place Trail and 10 in back of the third place Wenatchee Wild.

Sixth place Merritt is suddenly just six point back with three games in hand.

The Warriors return to the ice next Friday when the Penticton Vees come to town for the Warrior's annual Teddy Bear toss night. They play their final game before the Christmas break Sunday afternoon when the Power River Kings come to town.



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