PENTICTON—The defending Royal Bank Cup champion Penticton Vees will be without two of their current leading scorers next season.
Victoria native Wade Murphy, who racked up 91 points on the way to the Penticton Vees Royal Bank Cup win in Humboldt, Saskatchewan last season, has committed to North Dakota to play university hockey in the NCAA, the Vees announced Wednesday.
The 19-year-old Murphy leads the Vees' scoring in the first four games of the regular season with seven points.
Forward Sam Mellor of Cranbrook, who sits second behind Murphy in scoring, has also committed to play in the NCAA next season, with the Western Michigan University.
“As an organization, we are very happy for both Wade and Sam; both are elite players who were recruited by many great programs,” Vees head coach Fred Harbinson said. “North Dakota and Western Michigan are adding two dynamic forwards.”
Murphy split the 2011-2012 season between the Vees and Victoria Grizzlies. In 60 regular season games last season, Murphy recorded 36 goals for 91 points.
Mellor, 20, played NCAA hockey last season at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. As a freshman, Mellor collected four goals and nine points in 33 games. Prior to college, Mellor played two seasons in the BCHL with the Trail Smoke Eaters, compiling 61 goals and 130 points.
North Dakota plays in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), and won seven National Championships and 15 Conference titles. Recent Vees alumni Mark MacMillan and Brendan O’Donnell are entering their sophomore seasons with North Dakota.
Western Michigan Broncos are a member of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and have been a member of NCAA Division l hockey since 1974. The Broncos have made four NCAA Tournament appearances and have one a CCHA Conference title. Former NHL Head Coach, Andy Murray took over as the Broncos bench boss last season.
The Vees currently lead the BCHL interior conference with six points. They will visit the Salmon Arm Silverbacks tonight and the West Kelowna Warriors Saturday before returning home for a four-game home stand.