Owen Sillinger is trading in his A for a C.
Sillinger, who will enter his third and final season for the Penticton Vees next fall, was named a co-captain along with Grant Cruikshank. Sillinger will wear the C at home, Cruikshank on the road.
Days after cleaning out his locker, Sillinger talked about wanting to be a leader again. He’s got his wish.
“I feel like the guys look up to me. I feel like I could be a good captain on this team,” said Sillinger, whose plan for the off-season is to hit the gym and make his 5-10, 175 pound frame bigger, stronger and faster.
“When you look at Vees’ captains in my time here they all have the same characteristics and Owen and Grant are cut from that mold. They’re natural leaders and will work well together,” said president, general manager and head coach Fred Harbinson during a press conference held Tuesday evening in the Vault restaurant of the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The pair will lead a dozen returnees, who will be joined by new recruits; goalie Adam Scheel, defenceman Garrett Ewert, Ryan O’Connell and Luke Reid. Up front are Massimo Rizzo, Cassidy Bowes, Jack Barnes, Cam Hillis, Ryan Sandelin and Lukas Sillinger, brother of the Vees new co-captain.
According to Eliteprospects.com, Scheel is an 18-year-old product from Lakewood, Ohio commited for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks for 2018-19. Scheel is rated 28th among North American goalies by NHL Central Scouting for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He spent the past two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Michigan. Scheel recently won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2017 Under 18 World Hockey Championship in Slovakia.
O’Connell is ranked 208th by NHL Central Scouting for the upcoming draft. The 6-1, 170 pound defenceman is committed to Boston University for the 2018-19 season and has spent the last two seasons at St. Andrew’s College where the Ontario product averaged .63 points per game in 102 games.
Reid, a Warman, Sask., product, who averaged .46 points per game with the Battlefords Stars in the Saskatchwan Midget Hockey League. Reid, who turns 16 on Sept. 26 is relocating with his family to Penticton. He is listed at 5-11, 185 pounds. He is a projected late round pick for this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Ewert played in 10 games as a Vees affiliate player. With the Kamloops Storm in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, Ewert put up 10 goals, 42 points in 39 games, adding a goal and four points in 11 playoff games.
Hillis, who turns 17 next month, played with O’Connell at St. Andrew’s College. The Enniskillin, Ont., product had 37 goals and 99 points in 73 games with SAC. Hillis also played for Team Canada Red at the 2016 World Under-17 Challenge in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Hillis is committed to Providence College.
Barnes, 17, and Bowes, 18, both played at the Okanagan Hockey Academy (OHA) for their Midget Prep Red team. Barnes, the son of former NHLer Stu Barnes, had 26 points in 24 games in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL), and 51 points in 60 games at OHA over the past two seasons. Bowes had 21 goals and 49 points in 30 games with OHA Prep Red and had two goals and five points in 18 playoff games for the Vees as an affiliate player.
Sandelin, 18, comes to Penticton after a successful high school career in his hometown of Hermantown, Minn. In March, Sandelin helped the Hermantown Hawks repeat as Class A Minnesota State Boys’ Hockey Champions and was named to the All-Tournament Team. As a senior, Sandelin led Hermantown in scoring in the Minnesota State High School League, with 27 goals and 63 points in just 25 games, and was a finalist for the Mr. Hockey Award, which is given out to top senior boys’ high school player in Minnesota. Sandelin is committed to Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Sillinger, 16, played for the Regina Pat Canadians in the SMHL. Sillinger led the Pat Canadians and the league in scoring, with 78 points in 40 games, and was also named to the SMHL First All-Star Team. Sillinger and the Pat Canadians won the SMHL championship and they finished fourth at the TELUS Cup, the National Midget Championship in Prince George. Sillinger and his family will be moving to Penticton over the summer.
In a press conference held Tuesday evening at the Vault in the South Okanagan Events Centre the Vees also announced new ticket packages, which include exhibition and playoff games. Those packages can be paid using a new 12-month interest free payment plan of $28, $30 or $32 per month (Aug. 15, 2017 to July 15, 2018). That provides fans of savings between 40 to 50 percent on regular season ticket prices and savings of 25 per cent on playoff ticket prices. Full payment option are still available. Pricing is as follows: $189 + playoffs ($144): Sections 103-106; $209 + playoffs ($144): Sections 107 or 111; $239 + playoffs ($144): Sections 108-110. A minimum $25 seat deposit is required with full payment by Aug. 15, 2017. The Vees are only releasing 300 new season ticket memberships for the upcoming season.
“We continue to push the envelope when it comes to the value we offer to our dedicated fans,” said director of player development and corporate sales, David Michaud. “Year after year, we have a team that’s competing for championships and in one of the best facilities in junior hockey, and all of this at arguably the best value in the entire league. Our new monthly payment plan makes it easier than ever to become a member of Vees Nation.”
Season ticket members will also receive discounts on Vees’ merchandise on select nights in the team store and access to exclusive merchandise items.