Olli Juolevi. Matthew Tkachuk. Jesse Puljujärvi.
Those are just a few big names fans can look forward to watching in this year’s Canucks Young Stars Classic at the South Okanagan Events Centre Sept. 16 to 19. It is not only big name hockey players that will be making an impact in Penticton, visitors to the area are expected to boost the economy $1.5 million over the four-day Young Stars Classic.
“In my opinion, this is the premiere event for Penticton,” said regional vice-president of Spectra Venue Management, Dean Clarke, as the four-day Classic features the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets prospects.
Clarke said Spectra Venue Management very happy with ticket sales. While it isn’t like 2015, which he said was unbelievable, due to Connor McDavid playing, Clarke said ticket sales are ahead of 2014 and momentum for the Young Stars continues to build year-after-year. Clarke said they are close to reaching the ticket sales from two years ago.
“We usually do about 5,000 tickets this week. We’re thinking it’s going to be another great year.”
Any fans still looking for tickets can still get the single and double-headers, which are $15 and $25, respectively. They are sold out of the packages, 1,500 in total. Clarke said they had “tremendous uptake on our packages.”
“We designed them in a way that … the super hockey fan would be able accomplish what they wanted out of it,” he said.
Along with the big name players will be familiar names that starred for the Penticton Vees and helped them win the 2012 RBC Cup in Troy Stecher, Michael Garteig and Joey Benik. Clarke said having those players involved is one of the things organizers are really looking forward to.
“For us that is exciting because it’s tying the tournament to the Vees,” he said. “Those kids were kids when this tournament was going on in their own building. Now they are here. That full circle for us is exciting. I know our fans, the Vees fans, have always been super positive when it comes to the Vees alumni.”
Event chair Andrew Jakubeit said for their sixth year, they are playing host to phenomenal hockey.
Jakubeit said hockey fans coming to the tournament have been lucky to see a significant amount of high-profile draft picks come to the tournament over the years.
“This year each team has gotten a first round pick. There is always marquee players. There is still another 25-plus players who have similar skill sets and aren’t in the profile that are trying to prove themselves and they deserve the same amount of attention and interest by the teams. That’s what makes it a fun tournament to watch.”
Other players fans will see are Canucks prospects Thatcher Demko and Jordan Subban again, as well as Kyle Connor, Logan Stanley and Brendan Lemieux of the Jets, Tyler Parsons and Dillon Dube of the Flames as well as Tyler Benson and Drake Caggiula of the Oilers. Full tournament rosters and information will be posted on canucks.com/youngstars and SOEC.ca as they become available. Rosters are subject to change.
Along with the hockey, Sunday is Minor Hockey Day with a party on the plaza featuring street hockey, photo booth, face painting and some alumni signing autographs.
“It’s a fun atmosphere for the family before the 2 p.m. game between Vancouver and Winnipeg,” said Jakubeit.
The Canucks are also doing on-ice skills session with a select group of kids.
“I think that’s a highlight of the weekend,” said Jakubeit. “We try to create an atmosphere that mimics what you see in the NHL in terms of creating energy and excitement. Teams want to see how their players compete in real game situations. People cheering and booing.
“It’s a flagship event for our city. It provides a significant economic impact,” he said. “That’s exciting. It adds more energy to the fall shoulder season. There is significant media attention.”
September continues to be a busy tourism month for Penticton, with the Pentastic Jazz Festival and Dragonboat Festival held last weekend and the Young Stars Classic skating into the city on Friday. Kelly Hopkins, executive director of Tourism Penticton, said their goal continues to be enticing visitors to extend their stay when they visit. One approach Tourism Penticton has been taking is going mobile setting up a pop-up tent at various events and places around the city to keep visitors informed of everything that there is to do in the city. They will continue that into the fall.
“It is a great opportunity for us to do outreach and engagement so those visiting know about all the wonderful things still happening in Penticton post-summer rush. It is actually a great time of year to visit because the weather is still amazing and almost all of the stakeholders are still up and running,” said Hopkins.
Tourism Penticton will have their tent set up at the party on the plaza event on Sunday, looking to meet with tourists and locals alike.
“We will be there to assist anyone who wants trip planning advice, so if you have visitors in town it is great way to expose them to all there is to do in Penticton. Bring them over and say hi,” said Hopkins.
— with files from Kristi Patton