BCHL News & Trades:
Loheit, Lagerstrom, Schreifels & Sheppard Commit To Vees:
The Vees would like to 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.
Wozney Commits To Kings:
The Powell River Kings are pleased to announce the commitment of 2001-born defenceman, Ben Wozney from the Burnaby Winter Club. The 6’2, 165lb blue liner from New Westminster played 34 games for Burnaby last season, scoring 7 goals and assisting on 21 others. Wozney also got a taste of the BCHL this season, dressing with the Prince George Spruce Kings in a game against the Langley Rivermen. “Coming out of my season this year, I wasn’t really sure where I was going,” said Wozney. “To get it done with Powell River is very exciting, they had a good run last year and it wasn’t a hard decision to choose Powell River.” For Head Coach and GM Tyler Kuntz, Wozney is a big addition to an experienced Kings blue line. “We’re excited to get Ben for this season. He’s got a good skill set with his size and his skating, there’s a lot to work with there” says Kuntz. “He always plays with his head up, he’s an intelligent player and the biggest thing is that he wants to be a hockey player, not just the idea of being a hockey player. There’s a big difference.” Wozney is keen to contribute in Powell River at both ends of the ice, however realizes that the jump to Junior A is substantial. “Next year, I really just want to contribute,” said Wozney. “My game overall is being a puck moving defenceman with good vision, I can contribute defensively and offensively and I think the offensive game will come in Powell River with time and experience.” Wozney is due to join his new team mates ahead of Main Camp in August, before the season kicks off in early September. Between now and then, Wozney is focused on closing the gap between prep school and Junior A hockey. “It’s a big jump to the BCHL so I’m just focused on getting better to be able to make that jump,” said Wozney. “It was good to see how I stack up against those guys (when AP’d with Prince George), I could see how big the guys were, how fast everything was so this off-season is all about getting bigger, stronger, faster. The Powell River Kings are holding their annual Spring Camp in Kamloops from May 11th to 13th, 2018. Registration information is available at powellriverkings.com/2018springcamp. A special Early Bird rate for 2018/2019 Season Tickets is also available until May 25th. Renewals must be processed via the Kings office, open 10am – 4pm weekdays. New purchases can be done online by visiting tickets.powellriverkings.com.
2018-19 Outlook: With Penticton Vees Commit Luke Loheit
Luke Loheit is going out as a champion. Well, going out of his home state as one. The Minnetonka, Minnesota native ended his high school hockey career in the best way possible, capturing the coveted Minnesota High School State Tournament championship in March. “I think the final attendance was around 20,000 or so,” Loheit said of the championship game. “Every time it comes around every year the whole state kind of stops and focuses on that. It’s a big deal and it’s pretty special to be a part of. I think everyone who gets to play in it is pretty thankful because it’s rare, you go out of state and you don’t see anything like that.” Loheit’s team, the Minnetonka Skippers, earned their way to the State Tournament with a double-overtime win over Holy Family in the section finals. The event is hosted at Xcel Energy Centre, the home of the Minnesota Wild, each year. As Loheit said, the event is a big deal and draws massive crowds for each and every game as the state rallies behind their respective teams. Heading into the tournament as the number one seed, Loheit’s Skippers won 6-2 over Hill Murray and 6-3 over Centennial to punch their ticket to the State Championship against Duluth East. In front of a throng of fans, Loheit recorded an assist to help Minnetonka capture the schools first ever State Championship with a 5-2 win. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing. When you’re in the moment you don’t really realize how big it is,” Loheit recalled. “My teammates and I grew up wanting to play in that game. It’s not only special for the group of guys but the community and the alumni. It’s created a different culture to the community around here because it’s so tight.” Loheit recorded a goal and two assists in the three games at the tournament, adding on to his regular season totals of 12 goals and 18 assists in 24 games with the Skippers. On top of that, he a was also one of the captains of the team which is something he takes great pride in. “I think my leadership is one of my biggest strengths,” he claimed. “I always tried to have that leadership and that voice on every team I’ve been on. I wore the ‘C’ for the first time in my bantam year and that was really important to me. It’s not only special to have for me, but to have for the group of guys. I really felt I grew as a leader this year and I’ll carry that not only in my hockey career but for the rest of my life.” With his list of accomplishments, it may not be surprising to see Loheit’s name appear on NHL Central Scouting as a player to watch for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in Dallas, Texas next month. The 6’1’’ 185-pound forward was listed at 152nd amongst North American skaters. While he still has a few weeks of high school left, Loheit says now that hockey season is over, it’s difficult to tune out the thoughts of draft day. “I think during the season it was a little easier for me to block it out because I had things scheduled every day,” Loheit admitted. “It pops into my mind every once in a while but I’m really just focused on getting better everyday and getting ready for next season.” Barely a week after the biggest game of his life, Loheit and his father came to Penticton to see the Vees organization up close. The timing of his trip allowed him to see the Vees opening game against the Trail Smoke Eaters in the second round, a scene that firmly made up Loheit’s mind. “I knew my decision after the first day I was there,” Loheit said. “The culture the team brought to not only the ice but also around the community. The whole city was supporting the team and that was the coolest thing I noticed while I was there. It’s a hockey town.” With high school nearly finished, Loheit said moving away from home for the first time is something he feels ready for. His plans for the summer mostly revolve around staying at home to spend time with his family and friends before heading north of the border. Loheit will join a long list of Minnesota-born players to suit up for the Vees, including Nicky Leivermann and Ryan Sandelin from the 2017-18 season. “Seeing all the Minnesota guys there just fuels me to follow in their footsteps,” Loheit admitted. “I think it also shows just how great of an organization it is. It motivates me to get up there and represent my state and work even harder.” Loheit has already secured a scholarship to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he will play for Sandelin’s father, Scott. A self-proclaimed power forward, Loheit believes his competitiveness and physicality are his best traits as a hockey player, though he says his play making abilities are nothing to write off either. Being a physical player, Loheit knows the wear and tear of a season that occurs as the games pile up. Having never played as many games as the BCHL schedule has before, Loheit knows how important this summer is in his preparation for the 2018-19 season. “After the season ended I immediately started training,” Loheit said. “It will be fun though, I’m excited to play more games. There’s always room for more hockey so I’m looking forward to seeing how my body and my mental state reacts to playing 60-plus games in a season.” His passion for the game rivals that of the fans in Penticton, ensuring he’ll have no problems fitting in to his new home.
Spitzer Commits To Clippers:
Lincolnshire, Illinois native Will Spitzer has committed to play for the Clippers’ 2018-2019 season. Last season, the 18-year-old defenceman played for the Chicago Mission U18 team. In 75 games he recorded three goals and 30 assists. The previous season he played for the Milwaukee Junior Admirals, where he recorded three goals and 35 assists. In an interview with Clippers’ play-by-play announcer Dan Marshall, Will said that he is excited to be coming to Nanaimo. He feels he plays a strong offensive and defensive game. Will was in Nanaimo for the prospects camp and says he really enjoyed the community and atmosphere.
Harbinson Thrilled To Be Staying With Vees:
Fred Harbinson said his five-year contract extension had been in the works for quite some time. The Vees president, general manager and head coach had one year remaining on his current contract. “I’ve been approached over the years but I’m in a place at age 46 where I feel I’ve earned the right to align myself with owners who have the same philosophical ideas that I do,” said the Calgary native. “Obviously a by-product of all that is winning.” Harbinson said he sat down with Graham Fraser (majority owner of the Vees along with his wife, Sue) on Sunday and reached a deal that will keep him with the Vees until the 2023-24 season. “It’s really pretty simple – success isn’t an accident, it’s a choice, and Graham and Sue choose to be successful in whatever project they embark on,” said Harbinson. “I don’t think they get enough credit for all they do for this organization to help us be successful on and off the ice. They aren’t specifically in the winning business, but they are certainly among the very best in the people business. “I want to continue to work for them and for the great fans of Penticton.” Harbinson, addressing a public gathering Tuesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre, said his main goal from his first of 11 seasons with the team in 2007-08 was to “create a dynasty and a perennial contender.” The Vees won the Fred Page Cup (BCHL championship) that first season under Harbinson’s watch and have won three more since (2011-12, 2014-15 and 2016-17). The Vees have also made three appearances in the RBC Cup national championships, winning the 2012 RBC in Humboldt, Sask. Penticton has also won a Doyle Cup and a Western Canada Cup, while accumulating a runaway BCHL-best 24 banners in Harbinson’s 11 seasons. In the landmark 2011-12 season, the Vees set a new North American hockey record with an incredible 42-game winning streak. It culminated with Penticton’s second national title and first since the then-Penticton Knights won in 1986. Last season, the Vees won an unprecedented seventh straight Interior Division pennant and the Ron Boileau Memorial Trophy as BCHL regular season overall champions. 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 (defenceman Jonny Tychonick) - to come in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in June. “Many of the elite young players in North America look at Penticton first when deciding where they want to play their junior hockey,” said Harbinson. “It’s one of the things we take tremendous pride in.”
Falcons Name Miller New Play By Play Broadcaster:
The Kelowna Falcons are pleased to announce the hiring of play-by-play broadcaster Trevor Miller for the 2018 season. Miller has spent the past two seasons as the play-by-play broadcaster for the West Kelowna Warriors in the British Columbia Hockey League while also handling the team’s social media and website responsibilities. Prior to his time in West Kelowna, Miller provided colour commentary for the Penticton Vees for three seasons and has over 200 games of BCHL experience under his belt while also calling games for the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League for three seasons as well. The Mission, BC native moved to the Okanagan in 2004 and spent time as an umpire to fulfill a love of baseball. The 23-year-old is excited about an opportunity to spent the summer at the ballpark, “Baseball has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember and having an opportunity to work with such a professional and historic organization like the Falcons is a dream come true,” commented Miller, “I’m very much looking forward to working closely with the Falcons and providing fans the best coverage on and off the diamond.” Miller will handle the play-by-play of all 54 Falcons games, both at home at Elks Stadium and on the road.
2018-19 Outlook: With Penticton Vees Commit Jack Langerstrom:
It’s exam week for high-school students across the United States, but not for Jack Lagerstrom. A senior at Shattuck St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, Minnesota, Lagerstrom was exempt from his exams prior to graduation because he scored straight A’s throughout the semester. An impressive feat no matter who you are, but factor in an hour and a half of practice a day, a full schedule of 54 games and even a trip to Germany and Lagerstrom’s exemption is well earned. “It’s great to have a group of guys with the same ambitions as you to do the best in hockey and academics,” Lagerstrom said. “Having an atmosphere like that really gives you an even bigger incentive to work as hard as you can. The teachers and coaches are very understanding of our schedules and work loads.” While Shattuck St. Mary’s is a boarding school, Lagerstrom wasn’t far from his hometown of Edina, Minnesota, a short 45-minute drive north. That allowed his parents to visit regularly to watch his team play over the course of his four years there. Despite being close to home, his schedule at school allowed him to become more independent in preparation for not only his time in Penticton, but in college as well. “We have a thing called a blended schedule which means we have mandatory classes Tuesday and Thursday,” he explained. “Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s we have free time which forces us to manage our time. The schedule was put in place to prepare us for college, and I think it’s done a great job.” The maturity level and straight A’s should come as no surprise considering Lagerstrom is committed to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in the future, regularly listed as one of the most prestigious universities in the world. On the ice, Lagerstrom as just as impressive. Playing for the Shattuck St. Mary’s midget prep team this past season, he scored 15 times and assisted on 34 others for 49 points in 54 games. The 6’2’’, 196-pound right hander likes being involved at both ends of the rink. “I jump up in the play as much as I can and create scoring chances in the offensive zone,” he said. “But I also like to play shut-down defence. A great defence leads to good offence, and I try to emulate that into my play.” It’s all those tools that made Lagerstrom a highly-recruited player over the course of the 2017-18 season, and he had no shortage of options on where to play before heading to college. “I’ve always wanted to play hockey in college since academics are so important to me,” Lagerstrom said. “The WHL wasn’t an option for me to keep my NCAA eligibility, so it was between the USHL and Penticton. After coming up to visit the town, my decision was made.” Lagerstrom was drafted by the Vancouver Giants in the WHL and the Tri-City Storm in the USHL, but the Vees felt like the best fit for him. Being from Minnesota, Lagerstrom is well aware about past Minnesota-born players to make their way north to Penticton. “I know many players from Minnesota that have played in Penticton, and continuing the success of Minnesota natives there is something I definitely want to do,” he claimed. “When I got there I couldn’t get over how beautiful the city was. That along with the great facilities and coaching staff really made it an easy decision for me.” Lagerstrom joins an impressive defence core for the Vees which includes a few returning players from 2017-18 along with some newcomers. For the first time in his career Lagerstrom will be playing out of his home state, but his experience in time management at Shattuck will make the transition much easier he says. “Shattuck was a home to me for four years and I’m going to miss it,” Lagerstrom admitted. “But the excitement I have for playing in Penticton next year will make the transition easier. The atmosphere at the game I was at was one of the best I’ve ever seen, especially in junior hockey. Having 3,000 dedicated fans a game is awesome and I can’t wait to be a part of it.” As if it wasn’t already obvious how dedicated he is to his schooling, Lagerstrom will continue to take online courses during his time in Penticton as he continues to build on an already-impressive resumé. Vees fans will see him bring his A-game to the ice every night during the 2018-19 season.
Croteau Commits To Cowichan Capitals:William Croteau Commits to Play for the Capitals. The Cowichan Capitals are very pleased to announce that, William Croteau has committed to play for the team for the upcoming season. The 5’9″ 165lb defenceman joins the Capitals from the Iowa Wild Midget AAA Team. The 18 year old Chandler Quebec native tallied 5 goals and 34 assists for 39 points in 65 games played for the Wild. The Capitals would like to welcome William to the Capitals Family and look forward to seeing him on the ice at camp in late August.