Penticton Vees recruit dies in tragic crash

Crash kills new Vees player

A young hockey player due to make his start with the Penticton Vees this season has died in a vehicle crash.

Mack Motzko, 20, was expected to join the team this fall. He died this weekend in the Minneapolis area, and the Vees team shared their condolences.

"I know Mack was as excited to be part of this year's team as I was to be coaching him," head coach Fred Harbinson shared on Twitter.

"Mack was an exceptional young man who was extremely excited about coming to Penticton and joining the Vees organization," the Vees' official Twitter account shared.

"Mach was a character kid and will be sorely missed."

Motzko's father Bob also spoke publicly on social media.

"Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our Mack. No bigger heart of young man loved than this kid," he wrote.

"He is my hero!"

West Kelowna Warriors, city agree on a five-year lease extension

Warriors ink 5-year lease

The West Kelowna Warriors aren't going anywhere.

The BC Hockey League club and the City of West Kelowna have come to terms on a five-year lease agreement that further cements its commitment to the community.

Facilities and recreation manager Erin Goodwin says the lease, which takes effect Sept. 1 includes an extra commitment for ice time to accommodate several youth programs the team has undertaken.

Goodwin says the club accepted "less desirable ice times" such as early morning and evening times during the spring and summer months in order to make the agreement work.

Team president Chris Laurie says the establishment of the Junior Warriors youth program helped get the team through the pandemic, and was also a way to give back to the community.

He says through the pandemic when games were shut down for minor hockey, the Warriors were able to build and develop the program.

"We are seeing where there are some gaps and where we can step in to help local youth become stronger hockey players on the ice and off the ice," said Laurie.

The additional ice time also means more money for the city over the life of the lease.

Typically, Goodwin says the city received about $140,000 a year for ice rental from the Warriors.

This agreement will generate about $195,000 a year if the Warriors fully utilize the ice time available per the agreement.

The Warriors will also pay the city a base rate of $2,000 per month for lease space of their office, dressing room, storage and utilities, along with rights to alcohol, concession and advertising sales.

This gives the team the ability to operate the concession and alcohol sales within the arena and advertising rights within Royal LePage Place and Jim Lind Arena.

The agreement provides the Warriors with approximately 568 hours of ice time for the junior club and nearly 1,150 hours for the youth development program.

West Kelowna Warriors have added GM to head coach Simon Ferguson's duties

Warrior coach gets 2nd hat

Simon Ferguson has some new responsibilities.

After a season-and-a-half behind the bench of the BCHL's West Kelowna Warriors, Ferguson can now add general manager to his title.

The Warriors announced the promotion of Ferguson to coach and GM Monday.

Warriors owner John Murphy said the team was thrilled to be able to expand Ferguson's duties.

"Since the day Simon joined us his work ethic, hockey acumen and management skills have surpassed our high expectations. We are an organization that cares deeply about instituting a winning culture and Simon understands how to get us there and keep us there," Murphy said in a news release.

"I have worked closely with Simon on the recruiting front and we have considerable momentum. Signing Simon for three more years will build on this momentum and ensure continuity for all our players.”

Ferguson took over behind the bench on an interim basis midway through the 2019-2020 season, guiding the team to the playoffs.

The team removed the interim tag from his title shortly after the conclusion of the season.

“I look forward to the opportunity to continue building a program that plays at a high level and is an integral part of the community of West Kelowna," said Ferguson.

"We will be bringing back a great group of coaches, advisors, and staff who will continue to support and get the best out of our players. I would like to thank Mr. Murphy and Mr. Hume for the opportunity and their trust in me.

"They have put considerable efforts into getting out there and recruiting some exciting new players who will complement our existing core of veteran players. We expect to have a fast, skilled team who competes at every moment on the ice.”

Assistant coach Ayrton Nikkel, assistant coach and player development director Josh Gorges, goaltending coach Chad Carder, and athletic therapist Michael Bois are also returning.

Penticton Vees announce 2021/22 coaching staff lineup

Vees unveil coaching roster

The Penticton Vees have announced their coaching staff structure for the 2021/22 season.

Head coach Fred Harbinson, also the president and general manager, will return at the helm for his fifteenth season.

Under Harbinson's leadership over the years, the Vees' record is an impressive 562-163-15-38-4 including four Fred Page Cup championships, five BCHL Interior Division championships, a Doyle Cup championship, a Western Canada Cup championship, and an RBC Cup National Championship during in 2012.

Assistant coaches Steve Cawley, Patrick Sexton and Matt Fraser will also be back for their eighth, third and sixth seasons respectively. Fraser will be moving into a specialized role focusing on skill development, and strength and conditioning training.

Video coach Matt Miller is also returning, along with goaltending coach Jesse Plewis.

A new addition is assistant coach Cam Baker, recently retired from playing and ready to delve into coaching.

Baker played in 310 National Hockey League games between eight seasons and four different teams, including the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks. The Manitoba native was the third overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, and is also a two-time World Junior Hockey Championship gold medalist.

Head coach Harbinson is excited about his coaching roster.

"I have been extremely fortunate over the years to have a dedicated and experienced support staff. This upcoming season, I feel as though we have as strong a staff as we have ever assembled," Harbinson said.

“I have always believed that continuity in our staff has played a major role in our success on and off the ice. In addition, I believe we have a staff that will give everything they have into developing our players as individuals and help us achieve our goal of bringing another championship to Penticton.”

The 2021/22 season will welcome in-person spectators again. The season starts Friday, October 8 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The BC Hockey League introduces new initiatives it believes will improve player safety

BCHL rolls new initiatives

The BC Hockey League announced several initiatives Tuesday, including a few it believes will "strengthen player safety."

Following the league's annual general meeting last month, a number of initiatives were approved.

The league's Department of Player Safety will now have the ability to add instigator or aggressor penalties stemming from a fight after reviewing video of the incident.

Prior to this, while fights were reviewed by the league, they relied on the on-ice officials when it came to determining further penalties for aggression or instigator.

The new procedure follows rules put in place a year ago which added an automatic suspension to any player engaging in his second fight in a season. Those suspensions will increase upon subsequent fights.

"With these rules in place, the BCHL now has the stiffest rules against fighting in North American junior hockey," the league says in a news release.

The league is also making it easier to get all scoring plays right in a more timely manner. each team will appoint a live-scoring staffer to double check all scoring plays on BCHL TV and make any pertinent changes immediately.

The league office will review all changes to ensure accuracy.

The BCHL has also agreed to extend the contracts of commissioner Chris Hebb, executive director of business development Dave Cannon and director of officiating and player safety Brad Lazarowich.

The executive committee was also extended, with Rich Murphy of Trail added as a vice-chair.

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