Penticton Vees eyed by NHL teams

On the 50th anniversary of the NHL Draft, up to three Penticton Vees could be selected this Sunday in New Jersey.

Alex Coulombe

Alex Coulombe

On the 50th anniversary of the NHL draft, up to three Penticton Vees could be selected.

Vees general manager Fred Harbinson, who was named president on June 25, said that Jedd Soleway, Wade Murphy and newcomer Alex Coulombe could be chosen this Sunday in Newark, NJ.

“Soleway was brought down to Chicago for one of their combines,” said Harbinson, who left for Minnesota on Thursday before heading to the draft. “He’s been getting some interest. There is a handful of kids that potentially could get taken.”

Coulombe was ranked 68th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. Soleway was 131st, while Vees goalie Chat Katunar was ranked 28th among North American goalies. Murphy attended the Calgary Flames rookie development camp last summer.

Harbinson said going to the NHL draft has become a good networking opportunity for him. Two years ago when it was held in Minnesota, he returned with Steven Fogarty, who was selected by the New York Rangers. Fogarty ended up helping the Vees win the 2012 RBC Cup.

Harbinson’s stop in Minnesota is to meet with a potential player.

Early Friday afternoon, the Vees announced the commitments of two goalies for the 2013-14 season.

Twenty-year-old Olivier Mantha and Hunter Miska, 18, will join the club. Mantha spent the past three seasons playing college hockey in Quebec at Laflèche College in Trois-Rivières. He appeared in 75 games for the Dragons and was named a league All-Star in 2012 and 2013. The La Tuque, Que. product was second in save-percentage this past season and received a student-excellence award in 2012 while earning a science diploma. Mantha was a standout at the Vees spring camp where he made a lasting impression on the Vees coaches and scouts.

Miska comes from the US National Development Team (USNTDP) based in Ann Arbor, Mich. The North Branch, Minn. native played for both the under-17 and under-18 teams in his two years with the USNTDP. Miska faced junior and college hockey competition as the u-18 program plays in the United States Hockey League and also exhibition games against NCAA Division l programs. Miska has also experienced international competition as he won silver in Sochi, Russia in April with Team USA at the under-18 World Hockey Championships. He also earned silver at the 2012 World u-17 Hockey Challenge in Windsor, Ont.

In other news, the BCHL released its 2013-14 schedule. The season kicks off with the Showcase in Chilliwack and the Vees facing Victoria on Sept. 6 at 3:30 p.m. Their home opener at the South Okanagan Events Centre will be Sept. 27 against the Merritt Centennials. Early November takes the Vees to Vancouver Island for three games.

The regular season ends at home on March 1 against the Salmon Arm SilverBacks at 6 p.m.

The Vees will play 10 games on Fridays at 7 p.m. and 11 on Saturdays at 6 p.m. They have one Sunday game at 3 p.m. with Wednesday games at 7 p.m.

Players are expected to arrive in Penticton for training camp on Aug.15.