Vees beef up defence core

The Penticton Vees defence is filling out with Alex Coulombe and Chris Rygus

The Penticton Vees defence is filling out.

Alex Coulombe and Chris Rygus are joining the fold for the 2013-2014 season along with Brayden Park and Brett Beauvais.The club announced on June 7 that Coulombe, 18, committed, while Rygus was acquired in a trade Tuesday morning. Coulombe completed his senior season with the Stanstead College Spartans and according to www.eliteprospects.com, collected seven goals and 25 assists in 59 games.  The six-foot-four, 189 pound blue liner from Granby, Que. brings bite and doesn’t shy away from physical play. Coulombe’s strong play earned him a scholarship to the University of Vermont. He also climbed to 68th in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings ahead of the 2013 Entry Draft.

Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson said in a press release adding Coulombe is another step in building a contender.

“Our organization is very fortunate to have the opportunity to help continue Alex’s hockey development, and see him as a key ingredient in assuring we contend for another championship,” said Harbinson.

Coulombe’s coach James Rioux said he has made strides in every area.

“He passes the puck hard, sees the ice well, and never shies away from physical play,” said Rioux. “He possesses an excellent shot and will continue to grow as a player.”

Rygus, 19, became a Vee following a four-team deal Tuesday morning. The Vees acquired Rygus, who played for the Nanaimo Clippers last season, from the Coquitlam Express for future considerations. Rygus initially had his rights traded by the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League to the Victoria Grizzlies. The Grizzlies then flipped Rygus to the Express for former Vees goalie Nic Renyard. Harbinson said Rygus’ value isn’t just measured on the stats sheet.

“Chris brings a wealth of experience to our hockey team,” said Harbinson. “The last three years Chris has pushed his teams to play important playoff games in April-May.  Chris adds size (six-foot-three, 209 pounds), toughness and skill.”

Our team definitely became harder to play against with this acquisition.”

Rygus completed his third season of junior hockey with the Nanaimo Clippers. In 55 games, he picked up six goals and 21 points along with 88 penalty-minutes. Rygus also scored once in five games at the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup in April. When the Vees won the RBC Cup in 2012, Rygus faced them as a member of the Woodstock Slammers in the championship game. Rygus has played in the Telus Cup (National Major Midget Championship), Fred Page Cup (East Regional) and Dudley Hewitt Cup (Central Regional), to go along with his RBC and Western Canada Cup appearances.

The Vees will open the 2013-2014 season on Sept. 6 in Chilliwack against the Victoria Grizzlies, as part of the BCHL Showcase tournament.