The Penticton Vees have traded defenceman Kenny Johnson (3) to the Victoria Grizzlies in three roster moves announced Thursday. Western News file photo

Vees bolster defence by CJHL trade deadline Thursday

Penticton Vees added a pair of defencemen and a forward

Defence was high on the Penticton Vees agenda as the clock wound down on the Canadian Junior Hockey League trade deadline Thursday.

In the end the Penticton Vees head coach and general manger added a pair of strong defencemen in Evan McIntyre and 1999-born defenceman Jonathan Smart from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs along with stellar forward Ty Pochipinski.

The deals for McIntyre and Pochipinski were announced earlier in the day and Smart’s acquisition came later in the afternoon in a deal for future considerations.

The move to get 2000-born defenceman McIntyre from the USHL’s Cedar Rapids Roughriders was in exchange for future considerations and acquiring 1998-born forward Pochipinski from the Cowichan Valley Capitals was a four-team deal that sees Vees defenceman Kenny Johnson go to the Victoria Grizzlies.

To acquire Pochipinski, the Vees swung a four-team trade that breaks down as follows; Penticton traded Johnson to Victoria in exchange for forward Lach Hadley and defenceman Jarrin Sutton. Sutton was then moved to the AJHL’s Grand Prairie Storm in exchange for forward Cruz Cote. Cote and Hadley were then traded to Cowichan for Pochipinski.

McIntyre, from Oakville, Ont., has been with the Roughriders since the beginning of the season scoring twice and adding five assists in 23 games played.

Prior to making the jump to junior hockey, McIntyre spent two years at the prestigious St. Andrews College in Aurora, Ont., where he was teammates with Vees alumni Ryan O’Connell during the 2016-17 season.

“Our hand was forced,” said Harbinson about having to trade Johnson. “But we’re very fortunate we pick up a defenceman like MacIntyre, so I think our back end with our two goaltenders and our overall eight defencemen is going to be as strong as we’ve ever had.

“Evan is an elite skater with strong vision and play making ability. He has a strong track record of producing points over his career.”

McIntyre comes to Penticton with an NCAA Division I scholarship to Merrimack College. He will make his Vees debut Friday when the Powell River Kings visit the South Okanagan Events Centre for a 7 p.m. start.

Pochipinski, from Colorado Springs, Col., spent two seasons with the Capitals leading them with 21 goals and finishing with 38 points in 58 games last year. In his BCHL career, he’s missed just one game and has 27 goals and 22 assists in 115 games with the Capitals.

He has spent the first half of the season at Colorado College, appearing in four games and scoring once.

Pochipinski’s dad, Trevor, was a member of the Penticton Knights in the 1985-86 season recording 30 points in 42 games and helping the Knights win the national championship. Pochipinski is expected to be in the lineup for Friday’s game.

“The whole piece of it is a great story (dad being a Vees alum)” said Harbinson. “Ty is a player that, quite honestly, we tried to go after last year at deadline and couldn’t get him.

“Ty is a strong two-way centre who will be a great fit into our locker room and will bolster the depth of our lineup, which will be essential for a long playoff run.

Related:Trade deadline looming for BCHL teams

He added with the loss of Jackson Niedermayer and Drew Elser for the season, when completely healthy the club would have had just 11 forwards leaving him no choice but to move a defenceman which meant either Johnson or James Miller both 20 year olds.

“The fact that Kenny is a 20 year old created a situation where he was the odd man out. This was by far the most difficult trade in my 12 years in Penticton, but it was a hockey trade that needed to be made. Kenny fortunately will land in a great spot in Victoria as he finishes his junior career.

“It was hard giving up a kid like Kenny who’s been here for a few years, he’s a hard-nosed kid, a loved kid in the locker room and loved by staff and we’ll always have a great relationship with him”

Related: Vees bested 3-1 by Silverbacks

Johnson had spent the past two and a half seasons with the Vees, playing in 134 games recording five goals and 23 assists. He was a member of the 2017 Fred Page Cup team, but didn’t play in the playoffs due to injury.

Meanwhile, Smart, from Kelowna, has been playing in the Western Hockey League since the 2015-16 season when he joined the Kelowna Rockets after being their first round pick, 22nd overall, in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.

Smart has since played for the Rockets, Regina Pats and most recently Kootenay Ice, recording 14 goals and 66 assists in 216 games. Last year he set a career high with six goals and 22 assists as he split the year with the Pats and Ice.

In addition to Friday’s game, the Vees will host the Nanaimo Clippers in a 6 p.m. start Saturday at the SOEC.


 

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