Penticton Vees rookies reflect on season

Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro and Gabe Bast reflect on their first year in the BCHL

DANTE FABBRO’S improved defensive play for the Penticton Vees helped him be named the top defenceman at the RBC Cup national junior A hockey championship in Portage la Prairie

DANTE FABBRO’S improved defensive play for the Penticton Vees helped him be named the top defenceman at the RBC Cup national junior A hockey championship in Portage la Prairie

Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro and Gabe Bast had memorable rookie seasons, to say the least.

Jost, who turned 17 in March, said his first BCHL season was amazing.

“It was an experience that I will remember for a lifetime. Coming in as a 16-year-old, I was a young guy. I was looking up to a bunch of guys,” he said. “They definitely eased me into the experiences of being a rookie. I learned so much from our vets. Our vets worked so hard this year. They deserve so much credit.”

Jost, who put up 23 goals and 45 points in 46 regular season games, added 18 goals and 27 points in 31 BCHL, Western Canada Cup (WCC) and RBC Cup games combined. He noticed the difference in games as the stakes grew.

“Regular season to playoff there is a huge difference. Playoffs to the nationals is even more of a jump,” said Jost. “The competitiveness and the will to win just goes up. It’s an experience I will have to take back and look on. Going through this with a bunch of my brothers is just something that doesn’t happen often every year and looking back on it, it’s just such a great year.”

Jost also noticed improvement in his defensive play and learned that the playoffs aren’t about being in high-scoring tilts, but winning one-goal games. He also learned it’s about battling through adversity.

“Sometimes you go in slumps and have to change up your game a little bit,” said Jost, who played for Canada twice in the World Under-17 Championship and World Junior A Challenge.

As for next season, the Leduc product is excited and said it’s likely he will return. With the knowledge the Vees coaching staff is expecting to assemble another solid squad, Jost said, “How can you say no to this place? I’m mean it’s a great place. I will take a week or so, go back to my family and talk about it.”

The run the group just had, falling a game short of competing for a national championship, will help Jost in making his decision.

Fabbro, Jost’s close friend and billet roommate, hasn’t made a decision yet. He said he will in the next two weeks as he discusses things with his family. He does have the option of playing in the Western Hockey League with the Seattle Thunderbirds who drafted him eighth overall in 2013.

“Being a part of this team was pretty special,” said Fabbro, who turns 17 on June 20. “Meeting a bunch of new guys. All of them have been awesome. Great support through the season. The coaching has been sensational. They have been kind of the backbone of our team.”

Fabbro’s season ended being named the RBC Cup top defenceman, recognition he said is “definitely pretty cool.”

To him it would have been better had they won the national championship.

“I kind of found my game in playoffs. I kind of upped it a little bit,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the future.”

Fabbro, who chipped in four goals and 33 points in 44 regular season games, said his defensive game got better.

“Overall, it was just an awesome year for me,” said Fabbro, who added six goals and 21 points in the 31 BCHL, WCC and RBC Cup games.

Bast said personally he had a good season.

“Team success was unbelievable. Two championships and just falling short of a third,” he said, adding he learned that winning takes a lot. “I’m really excited right now. I can’t wait to get back here in August. Hopefully not get back to the RBC, but win the RBC next year.”

Also returning to the Vees are goalies Hunter Miska and Brendan Barry, forward Demico Hannoun is delaying going to Michigan Tech. Mitchell Newsome will also be back at forward and Jarod Hilderman is back on the blue line.