Warriors acquire D help

The West Kelowna Warriors have added some veteran presence on the blueline.

On Thursday, the BC Hockey League club acquired defenceman Cory Babichuk and future considerations from the Surrey Eagles in exchange for forward Chase Stevenson.

Babichuk, who will turn 20 at the end of September, split last season between the Eagles and Central Illinois Flying Aces in the US Hockey League.

He had a goal and 10 assists in 26 games between the two leagues. He played previously in Surrey during the 2016-2017 season, scoring six times and adding 25 assists in 47 games.

“Acquiring an elite defenseman is not easy, especially at this time of the year,” said Warriors head coach and GM Rylan Ferster.

“We feel we added a player who skates very well with a great amount of skill and brings plenty of experience to our blue line.” 

Babichuk has secured a scholarship at RPI when his BCHL career is done.

In Stevenson, the Warriors give up a player who spent two seasons in West Kelowna.

In 73 regular season games, Stevenson scored 22 goals while adding 21 assists.

Babichuk will be in West Kelowna when the club opens training camp Aug. 20.

The Warriors open the regular season with a home-and-home series with the Trail Smoke Eaters Sept 7 in Trail and Sept. 8 at Royal LePage Place.

Warriors add asst. coach

The West Kelowna Warriors have filled a vacancy on their coaching staff.

The BC Hockey League club announced Tuesday they have hired Geoff Grimwood to fill the job of associate head coach and assistant GM.

Grimwood replaces Shae Naka who stepped down last month to accept a job with the Pursuit of Excellence program.

Grimwood, 37, has spent the past three seasons as head coach and GM of the Kindersley Klippers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

Prior to that, he spent two seasons coaching the South Island Royals in the BC Major Midget League while also working with the Western Hockey League's Victoria Royals.

He also played two seasons with the then Victoria Salsa from 1998 to 2000.

“I am honoured to be joining the West Kelowna Warriors,” said Grimwood,

“I have known Rylan (Ferster) for quite a few years now and am very excited to work with him and the entire Warriors staff. I would like to thank Rylan and Kim Dobranski for the opportunity and look forward to moving to the West Kelowna area.” 

Ferster says Grimwood's experience will be a benefit to the club.

"I have known Geoff for over 10 years and have always had a ton of respect in the way he carried himself and the professionalism in which represented the programs he was with,” said Ferster.

“We would talk philosophy and exchange ideas from time to time.”

The Warriors also announced Matt Miller will return to the coaching staff for a third year. Miller has handled the club's video coaching duties while also assisting on the bench.

The Warriors open training camp at Royal LePage Place Aug. 20. Their pre season schedule is expected to be released shortly.

Vees sign Niedermayer's son

One of the sons of NHL Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer has committed to play for the Penticton Vees next season.

The team announced on Wednesday afternoon the commitment of 17-year-old forward Jackson Niedermayer, from Newport Beach, Calif.

Niedermayer spent the past two seasons playing for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks U-16 team. After 21 points in 32 games as a rookie, he tallied 23 goals and 42 points in 34 games this past season.

One of Jackson's two younger brothers, 14-year-old Joshua, will also be playing in Penticton next year, for the Okanagan Hockey Academy Elite 15s.

The whole Niedermayer clan will be relocating to the Peach City from the California this summer, the Vees said.

It's rumoured that Jackson's father Scott may work with the Okanagan Hockey Academy in some capacity this season. He's spent the past eight years working with the Anaheim Ducks in various roles, since retiring from the NHL.

Scott is a four-time Stanley Cup champion who played in nearly 1,500 NHL regular season and playoff games. He's one of 23 players in the "triple gold club," having won a Stanley Cup, World Championship and Olympic gold.

Jackson said he's learned a lot from how Scott carries himself.

“He was always a humble and quiet kind of guy when it came to his accolades... Just staying humble through it all and not letting anything go to your head is one of the big things he’s taught me," Jackson told Vees play-by-play voice Craig Beauchemin on pentictonvees.ca.

The team said Jackson will wear number 21. He'll join the team on the ice next month for training camp.


Warriors schedule unveiled

The West Kelowna Warriors will face a familiar opponent when they open, and close the upcoming BC Hockey League season.

The Warriors kick off the 2018-2019 season with a home and home series with the Trail Smoke Eaters. The same two teams will close out the season the same way.

The Smoker Eaters will serve as hosts for the season opener Friday, Sept. 7, before the two teams return to Royal LePage Place for the Warriors home opener the following evening.

The Warriors will host the reigning BCHL champion Wenatchee Wild Sept. 15 and 26. In between those dates, the Warriors, and the rest of the league will take part in the annual Showcase event in Chilliwack.

That schedule has not yet been released.

The Warriors will play each of the other six teams in the Interior Division six times, three at home and three on the road.

They have four three-game homestands during the season, and one stretch when they play four straight on the road.

Click here for the complete schedule.

The pre season dates will be released later.

Vees captain gets invite

The Penticton Vees have announced their new captain, Massimo Rizzo, has received an invite for the summer selection camp of the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

The camp takes place in Calgary at the end of July in advance of the tournament Aug 6-11 in Edmonton and Red Deer.

Formerly the Ivan Hlinka Memorial, the event features 18 games over the six days between the best U18 prospects from around the world. Teams from Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Switzerland.

Rizzo was named Vees captain for next season in May. Last year, he scored 13 goals and 26 assists in 50 games, finishing second amongst 16 year olds.

Canada has seen unprecedented success at this tournament since it began in 1991, medaling in 24 out of 27 years including 21 golds.

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