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Though their NCAA teams didn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament, some of the sting is taken out of it for Joel Rumpel and Grayson Downing because they’ve each signed on with NHL teams as NCAA free agents.

Joel Rumpel, Penticton Vees alum

Rumpel, a former Penticton Vees standout, inked with the San Jose Sharks out of the University of Wisconsin and has reported to Worcester of the American Hockey League. Downing, formerly of the West Kelowna Warriors, was signed by the Minnesota Wild from the University of New Hampshire and will head to AHL Iowa.


 Grayson Downing, West Kelowna Warriors alum

Both players last played in the BCHL as Interior Conference rivals in the 2010-11 season. Each played four seasons of NCAA hockey and will now have a shot at playing in the best hockey league in the world.

Over two seasons with the Vees, Rumpel posted a career 46-15-3 record in the BCHL to go along with a .914 save percentage, 2.34 goals-against average and three shutouts. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder backstopped Wisconsin to two apperances in the NCAA tournament and was a 2014 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

In West Kelowna, Downing – a native of Abbotsford, BC – registered 65 goals and 64 assists for 129 points in 132 career games over three seasons. The 6-foot, 200-pound forward led UNH this season with 21 goals and +13 rating. He wound up his NCAA career with 56 goals and 56 assists for 112 points in 144 games.