In 1990, Shawn Carter made his debut for his hometown Penticton Panthers in their inaugural season in the B.C. Junior Hockey League. Thirty years later, his son Levi followed in his footsteps and suited up for his first game with the Penticton Vees.
The 18-year-old joined the Vees as an affiliate player after finishing the season playing Junior ‘B’ with the Osoyoos Coyotes in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL). Levi played 12 games with the Vees, collecting four assists.
Playing for the Vees has been special for both Levi and Shawn.
“It’s a pretty cool experience really,” said Shawn, who had 16 goals and 43 points in 105 games BCJHL games.
“They have a plaque with all the players who played in the Knights, the Panthers, the Vees era. I found my dad’s name on there. It was pretty cool,” said Levi. “I took a picture of it. I just sat there staring and a bunch of thoughts went through my head.”
Shawn is more impressed by his son’s accomplishment of having a chance to play Junior ‘A’ hockey.
“It’s something he should be proud of. It’s an accomplishment to play anywhere,” said Shawn.
Levi said playing in Canada’s best Junior ‘A’ league has been a great experience for him after an excellent start to his junior career with the Coyotes.
“I was definitely nervous. A lot of nerves were going through my system,” recalled Levi of his first two games. “Just stepping on the ice, and especially in a Vees uniform, because I remember growing up, and playing in Penticton, that your dream is to play for the Vees. Just wearing that jersey, it was awesome.”
Shawn said he’s able to share things with Levi because he went through the same things.
“There is always going to be ups and downs. Ride the ups and not make the lows too long,” he said. “I think he has played great.”
The best advice he gives his son is to not take a shift off, he said.
“You have to make it count. You don’t have to go out there and score 10 goals,” said Shawn. “Go out there and do the little things. Show Fred (head coach, Fred Harbinson) he can play the game. Do the little things right and the big things will come.”
The difference Shawn sees in the BCHL from when he played is the players are faster and more skilled with more depth throughout the line-up. When he played, teams had two skilled lines and the game was more physical, he said.
Levi said he’s used each day with the Vees to improve as a player. Levi has been able to receive extra ice time with assistant coach Matt Fraser where he’s focused on keeping his feet moving, skill development and learning the Vees’ systems.
Levi said he loved being around the players and soaking in the experience, especially off the ice. He hopes to have earned a spot back with the Vees next year but if not will always look back fondly on his time with the club.
“Hopefully a good result turns out,” he said. “If not, I’ll move on.”