Four months from puck drop and the Penticton Vees have a new two-year lease in principle, new ticket prices and a new captain.
The latter drew more applause from season ticket holders in the Vault of the South Okanagan Event Centre then a reduction in ticket prices because the Vees’ new leader is Logan Johnston.
Will Russell, director of ticket sales for the Vees, didn’t feel slighted by the response about the new captain versus ticket prices.
“He has been a heart and soul player,” said Russell. “He’s a fan favourite.”
While Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson spoke about the changes for the club off the ice, he took advantage of the stage to make the announcement about Johnston.
“He has earned this all on his own,” said Harbinson of Johnston, who was standing to Harbinson’s right side below the podium along with rookie Cody DePourcq.
Harbinson said he named Johnston, who has been with the club four years, including one as an affiliate player, because of the time he put in, the history with his father Lance playing there, and the way Johnston plays the game.
“He plays the game the way that we want to play,” said Harbinson. “He is a two-way player. He plays hard. He’s been a great character guy. I think it’s just the natural progression.”
At season’s end, Harbinson told Johnson there were some things that he wanted to see from him. Johnston, who turns 20 on June 28, responded well.
“I didn’t know that was going to happen,” said Johnson, sitting with DePourcq as they spoke to a Vees fan. “It’s pretty exciting. It’s a big responsibility for the coming year. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Johnston follows in the footsteps of Derik Johnson, Denver Manderson and Brett Hextall, who were captains since he’s been a Vee. The Vees’ leader in playoff goals last season hopes to combine the traits of all three to help himself be the best captain. However, Johnston said he will aspire to be like Hextall.
“Hextall was just kind of like watching Braveheart going to battle,” he said.
Off the ice the Vees aim to win back fans with new ticket prices that includes changes to the seating structure, which will put maximum capacity in the mid 2,000 range.
“By doing this we believe we will create a better atmosphere and a more intimate feeling,” said Russell.
Single game tickets will now cost $12 (previously $13) for adults, $10 ($11) for seniors, $8 for students and $5 for kids 12 and under. A 25 per cent drop for the three and 20 for children. They also have an early bird rate until July 15 of $270 for adults, $225 for seniors, $180 for adults and $120 for kids. The Vees will be offering a 10-game flex pack. For more info, check www.pentictonvees.ca.
Taking control of ticket sales, Harbinson said they heard the “horror stories” of trying to get tickets. In speaking with the ownership group, they want to make it easier for people to attend games and find a way to connect with the club.
“We need to create a demand for tickets,” said Harbinson. “Right now there is not much of a reason for someone to buy a season ticket other than to donate to the team. When they know every night they can come and find a seat no problem. We need to change that and we are going to change that.”
As Harbinson began talking about the changes, he thanked the city, general manager of Global Spectrum Dean Clark and his ownership group, especially Frank Darin for their efforts.
Harbinson said since their move to the SOEC, there have been misconceptions regarding their relationship with the city and with Global Spectrum. The new lease reverts to a more traditional deal. They will oversee ticket and advertising sales. He wants to see the negative energy that surfaced eliminated.
“I think the biggest thing that we want to get across is that our number one focus is the people here in town, the fans,” said Harbinson. “We have a strong mandate to get back to what junior A hockey is and