The 2020-21 season is just around the corner, and the Penticton Vees march to top the league after an impressive Okanagan Cup starts now.
We know it won’t be a typical season. With five hub locations, the Vees are one of the teams hosting two others, the Cranbrook Bucks (making their BCHL debut) and the Trail Smoke Eaters. It’s a five week season where only the teams in each hub play against each other.
The season starts this Friday against the Smoke Eaters and finishes on May 9 with a tilt against Cranbrook. The details of the 2020-21 season are released, and it’s time to see who is wearing the Vees sweater in this season unlike any other.
The forward group has a few new names since the Vees played a regular season game a year ago. Fans got a dose of some of the new names during the exhibition season who helped Penticton lift the Okanagan Cup.
The top two point-getters of the exhibition season, Matteo Costantini and Quinn Hutson, both are gone and joined teams in the United States Hockey League. However, Liam Malmquist is in his second season in the Peach City and finished third in scoring during exhibition play.
A few players are making their regular season debuts such as Ryan McGuire, Devlin O’Brien, Jacob Quillan, and Stefano Bottini, who played for Switzerland in the World Juniors this past winter. The four combined for 29 points in the Okanagan Cup, while Beanie Richter, Levi Carter, Craig Dawson look to make their debuts with the Vees.
NEWS: The Vees are pleased to announce forwards Tristan Amonte ('00) and Liam Malmquist ('00) have been named assistant captains for the 2021 Pod Season!
— Penticton Vees (@PentictonVees) March 28, 2021
New captain Finlay Williams will be heavily relied upon up front once the puck drops on opening night. Entering his third season in the BCHL, Williams will look to impress this season as scouts will be keeping an eye on him for the 2021 NHL Draft. Helping Williams on the leadership front is Tristan Amonte and Malmquist, who have been named alternates for the season.
New kids on the blueline
Ethan Martini is the lone defenseman from last season on a revamped defense corps heading into the new season. It’s a corps that has a new face with a similar name as Joshua Niedermayer follows in his brother’s footsteps to wear the Vees sweater. The 17-year-old is one of a few new faces on the backend this year.
Ben Wozney, Philippe Chapleau and Grayson Arnott are all making their regular season Vees debut. While Brennan Wilson, Frank Djurasevic, and Owen Forfellow are not only making their Vees debut but junior hockey debut.
With all but one old face returning, the D-core will have to get used to playing with each other, and that could take a few games despite some players having played in the exhibition season and spending extended training time together.
President, general manager and head coach Fred Harbinson, who is entering his 14th season behind the bench of the Vees, and his staff will do a lot of juggling on the back end to find the right mix and challenge for top stop in the Penticton pod.
Gone are netminders Carl Stankowski and Yaniv Perets, who stood in the net last season with a bit of help from Derek Krall, who played six games himself with the Vees in 2019-20.
However, this season, the Vees have Kaeden Lane, who looks like he will be the number one netminder. Lane played in the exhibition season, going 4-0-0 with a .951 save percentage and a 1.30 goals-against-average.
— Penticton Vees (@PentictonVees) March 29, 2021
Along with Lane, the other two netminders heading into the season are 6’5″ monster Kaleb McEachern and rookie Jackson Garnett. Both will play a big part this season. As we have seen in the NHL, having more than one goalie is crucial for a long and healthy season if the Vees want to be at the top of the league.
On Feb. 22, 2020, Jay O’Brien, assisted by Danny Wright and Conner Hutchison, scored a goal in overtime to beat Wenatchee 4-3. That was over 400 days ago, and the last time the Vees played and hosted a game in the regular season.
In a season like we’ve never seen before, we’ll know very soon who will score the first goal this year and fans in the Peach City and around the BCHL can’t wait.