Connor McDavid is the big draw for the 2015 Young Stars Classic.
The Edmonton Oilers’ first overall pick from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, dubbed a generational talent, is a big reason tickets are selling fast for the tournament starting Sept. 11. Cyber Club members have taken advantage of their pre-sale privilege to score tickets, while 40 people were in front of the doors of the South Okanagan Events Centre Friday morning to make sure they can watch McDavid and company.
“Connor McDavid is the draw this year. Absolutely,” said Vancouver Canucks fan Dave Ashton. “To see a person of that calibre. I’m a hockey fan, always have been. It’s pretty exciting.
As soon as McDavid was picked by the Oilers, Ashton, who buys tickets for the tournament every year, was thinking he gets to see him play in Penticton.
“I have a lot of friends that are Oilers fans. They will be quite envious,” said. “I can rub that in too.”
Doreen Bruce also buys tickets each year and said it’s exciting to watch the young players.
“This is our opportunity as opposed to seeing them in the NHL,” she said.
Carla Seddon, director of marketing for Spectra Venue Management, said the crowd is the best they have seen.
“The demand for the tickets has definitely been the highest that we’ve had since we started the tournament in 2010,” said Seddon. “We’re excited. There is a lot of talent coming here. It’s going to be a great tournament this year.”
The tournament will showcase prospects from the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. The Canucks roster will include four players selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft since 2012: Jake Virtanen (sixth overall in 2014), Jared McCann (24th overall in 2014), Hunter Shinkaruk (24th overall in 2013), and Brendan Gaunce (26th overall in 2012). Cole Cassels, who helped lead the Oshawa Generals to a Memorial Cup Championship this past season, will attend alongside defence prospects Ben Hutton and Jordan Subban. Guillaume Brisebois (66th overall) and Dmitry Zhukenov (114th overall) will also make their Young Stars tournament debut.
Along with McDavid, the Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year, Leon Draisaitl (selected third overall in 2014) and Darnell Nurse (selected seventh overall in 2013) will play for the Oilers. Both made their NHL debuts during the 2014/15 season.
For the Flames, Sam Bennett returns for his second tournament and is joined by Emile Poirier (22nd overall in 2013) and Morgan Klimchuk (28th overall in 2013). In addition, forward Austin Carroll, who recently completed his fourth season with the Victoria Royals, and goaltender Jon Gillies, who led the Hockey East Conference in both goals against average and save percentage this past season, have been named to the roster.
The Jets roster includes two first round picks: Nikolaj Ehlers (ninth overall in 2014) and Josh Morrissey (13th overall in 2013). The list also includes 2015 World Junior Championship tournament participants Jan Kostalek (Czech Republic), Nic Petan (Canada) and Eric Comrie (Canada). 2015 second-round selection Jansen Harkins, whose 59 assists for the Prince George Cougars established a new single-season franchise record, will play. Andrew Copp, who made his NHL debut last season, St. John’s IceCaps goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, and recently acquired prospect Brendan Lemieux will also appear at the Young Stars Classic.
A limited number of six-game $60 tournament ticket packages went on sale today. This all-event package offers best value to fans. A limited number of VIP ticket packages will also be available and are $90 and $260 (plus applicable fees). For information and details on what VIP packages include please visit canucks.com/youngstars and SOEC.ca. Tickets are available online at www.valleyfirsttix.com , by phone at 1-877-763-2849, in person at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC or Wine Country Visitor Centre.
Seddon said they opened doors a bit early to get the people through.
“We love to see the poeple come down. Everyone is so excited,” she said, adding that people understand the value of the packages.
Over the past four Young Star Classics, over 80 players have gone on to play NHL games.
This year the festivities will include a Canucks Town Hall Breakfast as well as Minor Hockey Day, which will include a Party on the Plaza event with games, food, music and entertainment as well as skills and development camps for B.C. minor hockey players.