Vees have strong core coming back

MATT SERRATORE is among 11 players returning to the Penticton Vees for the 2014-15 BCHL season along with Riley Alferd (26) in the background.  - Mark Brett/Western News
MATT SERRATORE is among 11 players returning to the Penticton Vees for the 2014-15 BCHL season along with Riley Alferd (26) in the background.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Harbinson’s 11.

That’s how many players Penticton Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson has returning for the 2014-15 BCHL season. That group consists of goalie Hunter Miska, defencemen Patrick Sexton, Jarod Hilderman and Alexandre Coulombe, forwards Cody DePourcq, Steen Cooper, Matthew Serratore, Riley Alferd, Jack Ramsey, Max Coatta and Cam Amantea.

Josh Blanchard is joining the Surrey Eagles next season. He was the future consideration requested in the deal that brought Nicolas Pierog to Penticton. Ben Dalpe is also eligible to return, but is likely headed to Clarkson University after he raises his SAT score.

Harbinson said he’s never had as many returnees in his time with the Vees.

“These are significant pieces,” said Harbinson. “They are all very good character kids, they weren’t fringe players. We are very happy with the foundation that is left behind.”

As the Vees wrapped up exit interviews on Tuesday, Harbinson and his staff know how they want to build for 2014-15.

“I think we want to add a little bit more size up front. We’re a fast team this year, big on the back end, but I thought at times we were a little smaller up front,” said Harbinson. “Without giving up speed and (a compete level), I want to add a few bigger forwards. We will do that through recruiting, through our May camp.”

This weekend the Vees have a bantam camp to introduce 15-year-old players to their program, but also educate them about the BCHL. There will be 80 kids attending, including 25 of the top 50 rated players in B.C. Harbinson said there will be some kids who are invited to the main camp.

When asked about the captaincy, the Vees have an idea of what direction they will go, however, a decision will be made over the next few weeks.

“It’s going to be difficult to narrow it down, which is exciting,” said Harbinson. “It all played out the way I thought. We had very good kids. Have lots of leaders moving into next year.”

Among them are Amantea and Depourcq.

“I can’t wait to come back next year,” said Amantea, who has postponed attending the University of Alaska-Anchorage until 2015-16.

Amantea is having shoulder surgery which comes with a six-month recovery period and expects to be ready in October.

“I love it here. I’m not ready to leave this place yet,” he said. “I just think it would be better for my development, especially dealing with my shoulder it’s obviously a long recovery. It will be a bit of a process to get back into things. We obviously have a good group of guys coming back. I think we should have a pretty good team next year.”

Amantea is also excited about the recruits coming in, which includes Mitch Newsome and Liam Finlay.

DePourcq is also looking forward to next season and said going through what happened in Game 7 against Vernon, will only serve to bring the group together. DePourcq is still working on getting a scholarship as he chose not to put focus on that during the playoffs. DePourcq will now start looking at his options and make a decision.

Harbinson also said that Brad McClure was given an invite to the Pittsburgh Penguins development camp on Tuesday. Twenty-year-old forward Erik Benoit has several Canadian university teams interested in him.

Vees notes: Alumni Joey Laleggia of the University of Denver Pioneers was named the defenceman of the year as well as offensive defenceman of the year by the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, the BCHL posted on its website. The Edmonton Oilers prospect finished tied for the conference lead in goals by a defenceman with six in 19 conference games. The 21-year-old junior finished with 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points in 36 games. Joel Rumpel of the University of Wisconsin Badgers was named a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award given to the top player in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The BCHL website posted that Rumpel had a record of 19-5-1 with two shutouts, a .931 save percentage and a goals-against average of 2.19. He is also one of five goalies in the running for the inaugural Mike Richter Award as the nation’s top NCAA Div. I goalie. The Minnesota Golden Gophers website reported that defenceman Mike Reilly was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

Ben Sexton, who played for Clarkson University after one season with the Vees, has signed an entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins. The Bruins signed their 2009 draft pick on March 20.


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