Penticton, BC: The Penticton Vees held a press conference inside The Vault restaurant at the South Okanagan Events Centre Tuesday, May 15 to wrap up the 2017-18 season.
Multiple topics were covered on both the hockey and business side of the Vees for last season and the upcoming 2018-19 campaign.
On the hockey side, a new contract extension for Vees head coach, general manager and president Fred Harbinson was announced which runs through to the end of the 2023-24 BCHL season. Harbinson had one year remaining on his current contract.
The 2018-19 season will mark Harbinson’s 12th with the organization, a run that has seen unprecedented success. Since 2007-08, the Vees have captured four Fred Page Cups, one Doyle Cup, one Western Canada Cup, had three National Championship appearances and won the 2012 RBC Cup in Humboldt, Saskatchewan.
Overall Penticton has posted a record of 481-144-14-40 under Harbinson’s watch and has also seen 10 players drafted into the NHL, with at least one more to come in the 2018 NHL Draft in June.
Continuing with hockey announcements, the Vees are incredibly proud to announce their leadership group for the 2018-19 BCHL season.
Massimo Rizzo, who turns 17 June 13, will serve as the Vees full-time captain after Owen Sillinger and Grant Cruikshank were named as co-captains last season. Rizzo is coming off his first full season of junior hockey in which he scored 13 goals and 26 assists in 50 games. In the playoffs Rizzo took his game a step further recording 10 points in 11 games.
Rizzo also represented Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, BC, scoring once and adding three assists in five games for Team Canada Black.
He will be joined by Ryan Sandelin and Cassidy Bowes as assistant captains, along with two more assistants to be named at a later date.
Sandelin, 18, begins his second season with the Vees after missing just three games in the 2017-18 regular season. The native of Hermantown, Minnesota scored eight goals with 13 assists last season and his committed to attend the University of Minnesota State Mankato for 2019-20.
Bowes, 18, is also about to start his second full season with the Vees, though he burst onto the scene during the 2017 playoffs with five points in eight games. From Grand Prairie, Alberta, Bowes scored 16 goals and 17 assists last season and could regularly be found throwing his body into opposing players. He appeared in just three playoff games after suffering a season-ending injury in practice.
The Vees would like to also announce a few player recruitments for next season in Luke Loheit, Jack Lagerstrom, Henri Schreifels and Cole Shepard.
Loheit, 18, hails from Minnetonka, Minnesota and played high school hockey in his hometown last season. The 6’1’’, 185-pound forward posted 12 goals and 18 assists in 24 games. He comes to Penticton with a commitment to the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He was ranked 152nd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.
Lagerstrom, 18, is from Edina, Minnesota and played at the illustrious Shattuck St. Mary’s program in Faribault, Minnesota. The 6’2’’, 188-pound right-shot defence man posted some eye-popping numbers, scoring 15 goals and 34 assists in 54 games. He has secured an NCAA scholarship to Cornell University.
Schreifels, from Agoura Hills, California, comes to Penticton fresh off leading his league in scoring. Schreifels played for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks U18 program in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League, scoring 26 goals and 30 assists in 36 games.
Shepard, a 2002-born forward from West Vancouver, is familiar to Vees fans already has he played in six games for Penticton last season. Shepard picked up an assist in his second career game against the Wenatchee Wild January 6, before suiting up in four playoff games against the Trail Smoke Eaters. He recently announced his commitment to attend Harvard University in the future.
Transitioning to business news, the Vees are happy to say the Peters Brothers Program, which sees free admission to fans under the age of 18 at Vees home games, has been extended multiple years.
The program has seen huge success and growth since its inception for the 2014-15 season, as the Vees averaged under 200 children per game before it’s implementation. This past season the Vees averaged nearly 600 children per game.
The team also announced there will be no change in season ticket prices for the 2018-19 season. Anyone interested in purchasing season tickets can call Laura Carleton, the Vees ticketing and merchandise director, at 250-493-8337 ext. 4.
The Vees were excited to present a cheque for $2,720 to the South Okanagan Similakmeen Medical Foundation (SOMF) as part of the Gateway Gives promotion, which sees $20 for each goal scored by the Vees during home games donated to SOMF courtesy of Gateway Casinos. The program has seen a three-year total of $8,600 donated.
Finally, the Vees are very pleased to unveil the new Penticton Vees Community Heroes program. At each home game during the 2018-19 season, the Vees will be donating a minimum of $1,000 to a local charitable group to give back to the community that shows unparalleled support for the team. More details on the program will be announced at a future date.