The annual hockey tournament that brought the NHL and top prospects to Penticton has been cancelled.
Late last week, the Vancouver Canucks issued a statement thanking the City of Penticton for the ongoing support its provided for the Young Stars Tournament in years prior, but the 2019 event would not be going forward. The event was hosted at the South Okanagan Events Centre for one weekend every September for the past eight years.
“The tournament will not take place in 2019 due to a lack of participating NHL teams however, the options for future Young Stars tournaments in Penticton continued to be explored,” reads the statement from Canucks Sports & Entertainment.
The 2018 Young Stars tournament struggled to bring in other NHL teams, resorting to a revised format when the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers did not attend. Instead, fans watched top prospects for the Canucks and the Winnipeg Jets battle it out for two games and also had the chance to watch a two-game series between the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and CIS Champion University of Alberta Golden Bears.
Andrew Jakubeit, former Mayor of Penticton and one of the committee members that brought this tournament to fruition, said the event will be missed in the community. He noted that it brought more than just hockey players and fans to the city each year.
“It provided a very large economic impact for the community. It probably generated close to $2 million annually from the event,” said Jakubeit. “And each team has such a huge following so the media exposure, both traditional and social, was good for Penticton as well.”
Jakubeit said hosting the tournament appealed to the city when it started eight years ago because it “built off of (Penticton’s) hockey background” and brought a new caliber of hockey to the community.
“From a local perspective, this might have been the only opportunity for people to see an NHL-type of game throughout the region,” said Jakubeit. “So to come here and see your favourite team, they wear the full uniforms so it’s just like it is watching the pros.”
He noted that Penticton Jazz Festival and the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival usually take place on the same weekend as the Young Stars tournament so this may be their opportunity to “grow and take advantage of that.”
While the tournament is not returning this year, Dean Clarke with the SOEC said this does not mean that the event could not return in future years. Jakubeit said the change may have resulted from other NHL teams looking to host this type of tournament in their own communities to build up their brands, as they’ve seen done in Penticton.
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