Tough for Stecher to leave

Former Penticton Vee Troy Stecher on winning a Frozen Four title and signing with the Vancouver Canucks

TROY STECHER CELEBRATES winning the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Frozen Four hockey championship with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. While still soaking in that feat

TROY STECHER CELEBRATES winning the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Frozen Four hockey championship with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. While still soaking in that feat

Troy Stecher realized two dreams — winning a National Collegiate Athletic Association Frozen Four hockey championship and inking an NHL contract — within a five-day span.

The first happened on April 9 as the North Dakota Fighting Hawks exploded for three goals in the third period to defeat the Quinnipiac Bobcats 5-1, which featured Stecher’s former Penticton Vees teammates Michael Garteig and Travis St. Denis. The Richmond native signed an NHL contract with the Vancouver Canucks on April 13.

“It was really special,” Stecher said on winning the Frozen Four. “Obviously my first two years we were able to make it there, the semifinal. A lot of colleges and a lot of different programs would be really thrilled with making it that far. The pressure to play in North Dakota, it’s not good enough to just make it. You’ve got to win.”

A day after signing with the Canucks, Stecher said the win still hadn’t sunk in.

“It’s pretty remarkable,” said Stecher. “It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Stecher said he played well this season with a lot of confidence. He gave a lot of credit to his defensive partner, Gage Ausmus, his roommate and team captain.

“He’s just a hard-nosed stay-at-home guy. He really allowed me the opportunity to join the rush and kind of be that fourth forward up in the play,” said Stecher, who led Fighting Hawks defenceman with eight goals and 21 assists. “I knew he would be back there to bail me out if I did make a mistake. Having the confidence from the coaching staff, they would encourage me to jump up. It was obviously nice. I think I did alright, making me into a more complete player.”

His career-high 29 points also ranked him sixth in scoring among NCAA blueliners. That output surpassed what he produced his first two seasons by five points. Stecher called it a positive sign.

“I was fortunate enough this year to run the power play here with four forwards,” said Stecher, who will finish out his semester at school before deciding what his next move with Vancouver will be.

Making the decision to leave North Dakota a year early wasn’t easy for Stecher. He said it’s hard to explain, that it’s something a person has to experience. Stecher believes that each recruit the Fighting Hawks bring in is the top-end player from their junior team. They come in expecting to be given things. Once the players walk into the room, they realize the program is bigger than them.

“You walk into the halls every day seeing names like Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, Ed Belfour and all these big time alums,” said Stecher, who helped the Vees win an RBC cup in 2012. “You quickly realize that there is a lot better players there than you are so you can’t expect too much. You have to go to work. The bonds you create with your teammates are absolutely incredible.”

Stecher is thankful he lived with his entire class (Keaton Thompson, Paul LaDue, Gage Ausmus and Luke Johnson).

“Those four guys will be my best friends for the rest of my life,” he said. “It’s tough leaving them. Hockey is a business now.

“We were always together. Whether we go out to eat, go to the rink, going to class,” he continued. “It’s just a special bond between the five of us.”

Stecher said he signed with his hometown team because they presented good opportunities. He talked about being able to build strong relationships like in Penticton and North Dakota, and now Vancouver.

“The relationships I built with some of the people in the organization I felt really strongly about,” said Stecher, who was majoring in communications. “That was one of the main reasons why I decided to pick Vancouver.”

So what does Vancouver like about him? His compete and battle level are two things, he said.

“I understand I’m not the biggest guy (five-foot-11, 191 pounds) on the ice,” he said. “I’m sure I’m going to have to adapt to different things at the next level. That’s one thing they really liked was that, heading into a corner, and just having the mentality to want to battle. Doesn’t matter the size of the guy. Just something I have always incorporated into my game.”

There is also the consistency factor. He said that goes a long way for a hockey team. And there is the offence he chips in. In 119 NCAA games over three seasons, he collected 53 points (13-40-53).

Among Stecher’s memories of the Canucks as a fan is the West Coast Express line of Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison and Todd Bertuzzi. He said they were a pretty dynamic line, with Bertuzzi among the best power forwards in the NHL. He was also a fan of Ed Jovanovski and of course the Stanley Cup run of 2011.

“All the memories I have as a fan, it’s a pretty crazy feeling being able to be a part of this organization that I grew up cheering for.”



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The old Shielings Motel is being demolished for an eventual roundabout to reduce congestion between Skaha Lake Road and South Main Street. The city is also hoping to have affordable seniors housing there too. (Brennan Phillips - Penticton Western News)
Affordable seniors housing coming to Shielings Motel site in Penticton

The city hopes to turn a portion of the site into affordable housing

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Interior Health announces 89 cases of COVID-19 in the region

Currently, there are 900 active cases in the region

Penticton Christian School. (Facebook)
UPDATE: COVID-19 exposure at Penticton independent school after school program

The exposures are the latest in a quickly growing list in Interior Health schools

Elijah Beauregard, 16, was stabbed in downtown Kelowna on June 27, 2019. He died of his wounds three days later in hospital. His family is raising money to put a memorial bench at his favourite skatepark in Penticton.
Young woman charged in stabbing death of Penticton teen pleads guilty

The teen, who can’t be named, will appear in Kelowna Supreme Court Tuesday

B.C. wineries are open for indoor tasting despite new provincial health regulations. Photo- 
50th Parallel Winery, Instagram.
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
Suspicion of ‘fake news media’ makes rally uncomfortable for Salmon Arm event photographer

More than 300 people counted at city park for ‘Rally For Food Security’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Shayla, an 8-pound black and grey Havanese, was stolen from outside a store on Banks Road on Saturday. (Contributed)
Stolen pup located, Kelowna RCMP confirms

Mounties said on April 12 that Shayla, the 8-pound, black and grey Havanese dog, has been located safe and sound

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read