Vees trade capt., lose voice

The Penticton Vees announced a pair of moves Monday, one on the ice and another in the front office.

The team has traded former captain Massimo Rizzo to the Coquitlam Express to complete the June 1 deal that saw the Vees acquire Alex DiPaolo.

Rizzo, from Burnaby, spent the past two years with the Vees recording 24 goals and 55 assists in 87 games. He missed 21 games this past season.

“This was a difficult decision but in the end was the decision that was best for both the Vees and Massimo Rizzo,” Vees head coach, general manager and president Fred Harbinson said. “The past two seasons have been trying for Massimo, dealing with significant injuries which forced him to start the seasons late and miss substantial stretches of games.

“We felt that with Massimo’s recent surgery, it would be best for him to rehab at home next season. Fortunately we were able to make a hockey trade with Coquitlam that helped our team in the process. Massimo will always be a Vees alum and we wish him the best during his recovery next season,” Harbinson finished.

The broadcast voice of the Vees, Craig Beauchemin, also announced Monday he is leaving Penticton for a similar position with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League.

Beauchemin, from Whitehorse, Yukon, joined the Vees in August of 2017, taking over from Fraser Rodgers who had held the position for the previous six years.

Beauchemin was responsible for running and updating all Vees social media outlets, co-ordinating media requests within the organization, generating content for social media use and handling the play-by-play of all Vees games.

An announcement regarding his successor will be made in the near future.


Vees captain NHL drafted

Penticton Vees team captain Massimo Rizzo has been drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Rizzo was drafted 216th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. 

He is the 33rd player to be drafted into the NHL directly from the Penticton Vees, and the third by Carolina. Justin Krueger was drafter by the team in 2006 and Zac Dalpe in 2008. 

Rizzo finished first on the Vees in scoring with three goals and three assists in six games against the Cowichan Valley Capitals during the 2019 playoffs. 

He also represented Canada at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge this past season, recording two assists in six games with Team Canada West.

He has an NCAA scholarship for the University of North Dakota for the future. 

D-man returns to Warriors

A key piece of the West Kelowna Warriors RBC Cup championship team of 2016 is set to return to the club.

Defenceman Jake Harrison, who left for the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League prior to the \start of last season, will rejoin the team for the 2019-20 campaign.

Harrison, 20, had two goals and eight assists in 49 games with the Force.

“We are very excited to have Jake back in West Kelowna for next season”, said Warriors coach and GM Brandon West. 

“Jake is a leader who has a wealth of experience in our league and our program. Jake has always been a fan favourite and everyone will be excited to see him back on Royal LePage Place ice.”

Harrison says being away from home for the first time was a great life experience that pushed him to grow and mature as a person.

"The Fargo Force coaching staff played a big part of improving my defensive game and further my skating abilities.”

“But, there is no greater feeling than being able to play for your hometown team. It is awesome to have the opportunity to play my fourth and final year of junior hockey with the Warriors.”

Harrison and the Warriors open training camp at the end of August.


Vees sign top prospect

The Penticton Vees have signed a top NHL prospect for the upcoming season.

Forward Jay O’Brien, 19, has committed to the Vees for the 2019-20 season, the team announced Thursday.

O’Brien was the 19th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. He comes to the Okanagan after spending last season with the Providence Friars in the NCAA.

Before college, O’Brien was named the United States High School Hockey All-USA Player of the Year after his senior season at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Massachusetts.

In 30 games that year, O’Brien scored 43 goals and added 37 assists for 80 points. The Flyers selected him in the draft after that season.

The 5’11’’, right-shot centre will spend his 20-year-old season with the Vees before returning to the NCAA ranks in 2020-21.

The Vees also announced Thursday 1999-born defenceman Steven Holtz has committed to the team. Holtz, from White Lake, Michigan, stands an imposing 6’4’’ from the blue line weighing in at 190 pounds.

Training camp starts in August.

New playing rights for Vees

The Penticton Vees have acquired the CJHL playing rights to forward Colton Kalezic from the Toronto Patriots in exchange for future considerations. 

Kalezic, born in 1999, spent the 2018-19 season with the Tri-City Storm in the USHL. 

He scored 11 goals and added 10 assists in 47 games with the Storm last season. 

In the 2018 OJHL playoffs, Kalezic scored 10 goals with 15 assists in 17 games to help the Ontario Junior Leage's Patriots reach the third round. 

He also represented Canada as part of Team Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge in Truro, Nova Scotia, where he tied for team lead in scoring and was teammates with Vees alum Mason Snell. 

Kalezic will bring over 200 games of junior hockey experience with him to Penticton, as well as an NCAA commitment to Northern Michigan University for the fall of 2020. 

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