The love affair between Penticton and the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Classic continues to blossom.
“I always say to people the City of Penticton and the South Okanagan Events Centre provides a great environment for the tournament for our young players,” said Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations, Trevor Linden. “I think I can speak on behalf of the Winnipeg Jets, the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers that it’s a great tournament. It is really everything you would want in a city and in a venue. A great environment for our kids to perform in.”
The six games attracted 21,262 fans. The Canucks/Oilers game had the top attendance at 4,192, topping the Jets/Canucks at 4,113. Linden added the current set up makes the tournament meaningful, especially when fans drive in from various parts of B.C. as well as Alberta.
(read more: Young Stars provides economic boost to Penticton)
“It’s a great connection for our fans as well just being in B.C.,” he said. “We don’t have any interest at this point in making it bigger. The games are competitive, they are hard fought. It’s exactly what we’d want.”
Event chair Andrew Jakubeit said it went well and was pleased with the attendance. He added that the NHL clubs were impressed with the community support.
“It’s really showing itself as one of these flagship events here,” said Jakubeit.
Linden said the future of the tournament in Penticton is good, though when asked, he admitted that one of the Alberta teams inquired about hosting the event.
“I think at the end of the day, I think they all love coming to Penticton,” said Linden. “It’s easy for them. They show up and play. Jonathan Wall (director, hockey operations and analytics) from our organization is kind of the architect of the tournament, puts the details in place. I think they are very happy with the set up. There was some talk that they may want to host it, but if that’s the case, we can deal with that. Currently, everyone is pretty happy with it.
“It’s a beautiful place to come to. The teams look forward to coming out there,” Linden continued. “The venue is fantastic. You couldn’t ask for a better spot.”
Jakubeit was told by the teams they would see him next year.
Away from the rink, the Classic once again featured the Party on the Plaza, which Jakubeit said provided a great family atmosphere.
“I think the highlight was the chance to get a photo with Fin,” he said. “He floated through the building, drew a lot of attention. We really need the other teams to bring their mascots. I think that would be a lot of fun.”
There was also skills and development camps for B.C. minor hockey players.