NHL Young stars returning to Penticton

Top prospects from five NHL teams will be under the spotlight at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton this fall.

The Canucks Young Stars Tournament is expected to return to Penticton after it was cancelled last year due to the NHL lockout. The event was last held in Penticton in 2011 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The Canucks Young Stars Tournament is expected to return to Penticton after it was cancelled last year due to the NHL lockout. The event was last held in Penticton in 2011 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Top prospects from five NHL teams will be under the spotlight at the South Okanagan Events Centre this fall.

They are back after a one-year hiatus due to the NHL lockout. The tournament, which Penticton hosted in 2010 and 2011, is returning as the newly-branded Canucks Young Stars Classic.

“We felt it was imperative to expand the event beyond the ice surface,” said Canucks hockey administration director Jonathan Wall during an announcement Thursday morning in the Vault at the SOEC.

Along with eight games, fans can enjoy a Canucks alumni game against other Young Stars teams’ alumni and local police and fire department members. There will also be a Canucks Business Leaders’ Day, a Minor Hockey Day and a Canucks alumni and team personnel meet and greet. Minor Hockey Day will include a party on the plaza with games, food, music, entertainment as well as skills and development camps for minor hockey players. After the NHL game on Saturday, all alumni, NHL management, coaches, scouts, media and local VIP guests will be invited to the Vault for a wine and cheese event.

Wall said the participating teams (Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Winnipeg Jets and Canucks) will have a combined seven picks in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

“This promises to be an extremely competitive event,” said Wall.

The first game features the Oilers and Flames at 4 p.m. on Sept. 5. The final game will be between the Canucks and Jets at noon on Sept. 8.

Stan Smyl, senior advisor to Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis, said during the announcement that Penticton has been an excellent host city for their first two Young Stars tournaments.

“We are thrilled to be returning to this city for an exciting event,” said Smyl, who cracked a joke about playing in the alumni game and added he is going to try to coerce Canucks legend Trevor Linden into his skates for the game.

“The Young Stars Classic has been very well received by our NHL partner clubs, who also participated the first two years. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the game’s top prospects in a competitive environment in front of passionate fans.”

Smyl added that 40 players who competed in the previous tournaments have gone on to the NHL, including Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev, Oilers forward Taylor Hall and Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler. Smyl praised the city, Global Spectrum staff and local businesses for being excellent to work with.

“We are excited to be able to come to Penticton to celebrate the game in a city with such great, rich, hockey history,” he said.

“It is amazing the amount of energy and excitement having five NHL teams coming into our community brings to fans who might otherwise never be able to see an NHL-calibre hockey game,” said Coun. Andrew Jakubeit, who is also the event chair. “These Young Stars are a pleasure to watch as the hockey is fast, hard-hitting and intense. The Young Stars Classic will be more of a hockey festival theme this year, which will make it a ‘must attend’ event for any hockey fan, while also providing significant economic impact and exposure for our community and facilities.”

Garry Litke, acting mayor for Penticton, is glad the Canucks have chosen to bring the event back.

“That’s why we built this facility,” he said. “It has a huge economic impact to our community. The last time the Young Stars were here, there was extensive coverage on TSN. I happened to be traveling in the northern part of the province during one of the days and everybody was tuned to TSN because of what was happening in Penticton. I’m looking forward to that kind of exposure once again when they come back.”

Tournament ticket packages, which include a ticket to each of the eight games, are $70 plus applicable fees and go on sale June 14 at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available online at www.valleyfirsttix.com, by phone at 1-877-763-2849 or in person at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC or at Penticton & Wine Country Visitor Centre.

Single game tournament tickets are expected to go on sale in August.

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