Penticton Vees defenceman Luke Reid kept his stick glued to his hands for most of the summer as he waited for a phone call from Hockey Canada.
A few games into the BCJHL season and that call came and went.
“I was a bit preoccupied,” said Reid, with a smile showing off the stitches to his chin. “Yeah, I missed the call because I was in the hospital. A little puck to the face in practice. I had to call them back and to hear I made the team, it is an honour.”
The team he is referring to is one of three that will represent Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Reid and Vees teammate, Massimo Rizzo, were selected with 64 other players to suit up for Canada against eight international teams (U.S., Russia, Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic) in Dawson Creek and Fort. St. John Nov. 5 to 11.
Reid said the realization he will be pulling on a Team Canada jersey hasn’t quite kicked in yet — something he has wanted since he was young.
|Massimo Rizzo, a forward for the Penticton Vees, will play for Team Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Mark Brett/Western News
“I think every kid wants to, but it’s believing it that is the key to making it happen. I look forward to doing the best I can to represent my country.”
Reid, from Warman, Sask., said his first Hockey Canada experience at the U17 camp held in the summer reinforced many of the things he has already engrained in him.
“You realize everything needs work. It is about getting faster, stronger, improving your stick handling — everything. You can never be too good at one skill is what I took away from that camp. I really worked on those throughout the summer so I could come here (Penticton) and make an impact. I didn’t really drop my stick much all summer,” he said.
For Vees forward Rizzo it was a bit of a tortuous summer. Plagued by an injury during the camp he was forced to the sidelines for the duration — taking part in off-ice sessions, presentations and watching from the stands for the rest.
“I was hoping that I would still make the team, because they also watch what you do before and after that camp. It was a frustrating summer for sure because I wasn’t able to train and workout,” said Rizzo who was an affiliate player last for the Vees and joined them for their long playoff run to the Western Canada Cup and Royal Bank Cup.
Rizzo was named the Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s MVP last season after recording 53 points in 28 games with the Burnaby Winter Club.
Vees head coach Fred Harbinson said having the two Vees players, and four others in the BCJHL, chosen to represent the country is outstanding.
“Four years in a row we have had someone representing our team and these two guys have worked hard. They have built a resume until now and it is being recognized,” said Harbinson. “For their age level, they are very highly skilled. Both (Reid and Rizzo) have very good fundamentals and puck moving ability. Their overall skill level is so high. Massimo came in and competed at the highest level for us at the RBC and Western Canada Cup and Luke is first year with us here and there is not many guys that have the drive that he has. He is willing to do the extra stuff on and off the ice.”
Other BCJHL players that will represent Canada are Victoria Grizzlies forward Alex Newhook and defenceman Jackson Alexander, Vernon Vipers forward Alex Swetlikoff and Chilliwack Chiefs forward Harrison Blaisdell.
Reid and Rizzo join Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro, Griffin Mendel and current teammate Jonny Tychonick as Vees players to make the U-17 squads in recent years. Jost, Mendel and Tychonick played for Team White while Fabbro for Team Red. Both of the Vees players will be assigned to a Hockey Canada team (red, white or black) at a later date.
|Penticton Vees defenceman Luke Reid protects the front of the net during a game against the Langley Rivermen on Wednesday night. Reid was selected to represent Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Kristi Patton/Western News
The Penticton Vees suffered their first loss of the season on Wednesday night against the Langley Rivermen.
Despite firing 21 shots on net in the third period, the Rivermen still came up with the 2-1 win.
The Rivermen got on the board first when Trevor St. Jean beat Vees goalie Adam Scheel on the glove side 5:03 into the first period.
The Vees found themselves down 2-0 in the third period when the Rivermen capitalized on a turnover. Scheel came out of his net to play the puck, but his pass hit the stick of Ryan O’Connell and the Rivermen forecheckers converged. Ethan Leyh grabbed the puck and slid it through the five hole of Scheel before he could get back into position.
A powerplay goal by the Vees a few minutes later put them back in the game. Cassidy Bowes’ shot from the left circle hit Dakota Boutin’s leg and deflected over the Rivermen’s goalie Braedon Fleming.
Despite lots of pressure late in the third period, the Vees couldn’t solve the Rivermen goaltender who finished with 36 saves in the 2-1 victory.
The Vees will play the Merritt Centennials at the SOEC tonight (Oct. 20) at 7 p.m. The Vees have come out on top in the two games the teams have played against one another so far this year.
The Vees will travel across the border to face the Wenatchee Wild on Oct. 21. Their next home game action is Oct. 25 when they host the Wild.