Troy Stecher continues to impress the Penticton Vees and he was rewarded for it.
On Monday, the junior A club announced that the 17-year-old defenceman will help Logan Johnston with the leadership duties this season as an assistant captain.
“Leadership isn’t always equated by age,” said Vees coach and GM Fred Harbinson. “Troy showed great maturity throughout his 16-year-old season and maybe more importantly this off-season.”
Harbinson paid attention to him during the offseason and felt Stecher really worked at his schooling and off-ice training.
“When the season is over, it’s easy for the kids to kind of take their foot off the pedal, instead he really put it down,” said Harbinson of Stecher’s dedication. “He improved in his schooling, improved his strength in the weight room and he’s had a great off-season.”
The North Vancouver native is returning for his second year with the Vees and is coming off a rookie campaign in which he scored five goals and 20 points in 54 regular season games. He continued his strong play into the playoffs, collecting five points en route to being named co-playoff MVP with Johnston.
“I think he’s going to be one of many great leaders we have on the team,” said Harbinson, who will name his other assistant captain at the conclusion of training camp.
Harbinson was also busy setting up the roster for this season and moved Penticton product Carter Rigby to the Victoria Grizzlies for future considerations.
Rigby said he was a little surprised by the move but is choosing not to look at it negatively.
“Think of the best situation possible and say OK maybe this team wants me more or you will get more playing time or a better opportunity,” said Rigby, who wasn’t told why he was moved. “Victoria is a great city, great town. Now two top-end teams (WHL Victoria Royals) will be there.”
The idea of being a Grizzly hasn’t sunk in yet for Rigby, who always wanted to be a Vee, but understands change. The six-foot, 210-pound forward was looking forward to playing with the Vees because of the high-end talent Harbinson recruited. Rigby was excited to meet the new players and continuing friendships with the returning core.
“Hopefully they will do well this season,” said Rigby, who collected a goal and seven points in 10 games with the Vees last season. “I’m pretty sure they will with the lineup they will be putting on the ice every night.”
One of the reasons Harbinson made the move is because the BCHL has changed roster sizes from 23 to 21. Had that not been changed, Harbinson said there would have been less pressure to make the deal. The other reason is because Rigby does intend to try and return to the WHL.
“On the business side of things we were worried if come November, I think he’s made it pretty clear that he doesn’t want to play in Prince George, and if PG was to trade him to a team of his liking come October, in November we could lose that player and now we’re down to 20 players,” said Harbinson.
Rigby said he believed that is one of the reasons he was moved.
“I think Carter is a heck of a hockey player,” said Harbinson. “Victoria is willing to take a chance that Carter is going to stay the year. We just felt at this time we would be better off playing other players in his position that will be here for maybe more than one year or more than a couple months.”
The Vees prep camp begins Aug. 29 until Sept. 2 with the intention to give players skating and conditioning time prior to main camp, which runs Sept. 3 to 5.