David Michaud promises the Ring of Honour night Thursday at the South Okanagan Events Centre is going to be very special.
That’s when retired NHLers Paul Kariya and Brendan Morrison will join the exclusive club, bringing the total to 15.
“We just want to make sure that people maybe understand the magnitude of this night,” said Michaud, the Western Canada Cup chair. “If you’re a Vees fan or have the ability to come out, this is probably one you don’t want to miss. It’s going to be a really fun night.”
After making the announcement in mid March that Kariya and Morrison would be included in the Ring of Honour, the buzz went beyond Penticton and its fans. Michaud said they received national attention. Former Penticton Knight and TSN personality Ray Ferraro, a Ring of Honour member, spoke about it on TSN. Darren Dreger, a TSN insider, spoke about it during the intermission of one of their NHL broadcasts and the players the program has developed, including recent NHL draft pics Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro, drafted to the NHL by Colorado and Nashville, respectively in 2016.
“There was great exposure at the National Hockey League level for what we’re doing,” said Michaud. “It was exciting to see that response from the hockey community about us honouring these two guys.”
Kariya and Morrison are taking time out of their schedules to return to Penticton and be part of the Western Canada Cup weekend. They will be joined by more than 100 alumni. While all eyes will be on Kariya and Morrison, the ceremony is about more than those two players, said Michaud. It will also be about the eras representing the junior A franchise, including players from the 1986 national championship team and players from the ’90s and early 2000s era. Michaud called it a great cross section.
“It’s going to be a really cool opportunity to see some of the old faces that they used to cheer on at Memorial Arena and even some here at the SOEC,” he said.
The alumni will be seated in the deck below the Ring of Honour and have a birds-eye view of the weekend. They will also get to see the Fred Page Cup, which will be displayed for them.
“We’re really thrilled with the response from the number of guys,” said Michaud. “We had a lot of help from different coaches from past eras, reaching out to players. For some it will be their first chance to see the SOEC. Even seeing Duncan Keith here (Sunday night), he was kind of blown away by it. Not quite memorial.”
Michaud said the biggest thing for the Vees is it offers validation on what they are doing.
On Friday will be the Western Canada Cup awards gala featuring three special guests in Morrison, Andy Moog and current Vancouver Canucks defenceman Troy Stecher, who will form an alumni discussion panel in the SOEC. The gala begins at 5 p.m. with a cocktail hour, followed by dinner at 6 p.m.; the awards ceremony starts at 7 p.m.
Ticket are now on sale for $75 per person with a limited amount available; gala tables seat eight.
“The awards gala is one of the biggest events of the Western Canada Cup schedule. It will be a great celebration of not only the hockey during the week, but a celebration of hockey in Penticton,” said Michaud. “We’re thrilled that Brendan Morrison, Andy Moog and Troy Stecher are taking time out of their busy schedules to share some stories and experiences with the players and those in attendance.”
Stecher just finished his rookie season with his hometown Vancouver Canucks. The former Vees captain had three goals and 24 points in 71 games and was named the Canucks Top Defencemen. Stecher played three seasons in Penticton from 2010-2013, winning an RBC Cup national championship in 2012.
The four league commissioners from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba will be on hand to present individual awards, along with all-tournament team awards, which include Top Scorer, MVP, Top Forward, Top Defencemen and Top Goalie, and All-Tournament Team.
A limited number of $10 Club Seat tickets will be available for fans who wish to watch the awards ceremony and alumni panel discussion only. Tickets for the gala and club seat tickets are available at the Valley First Box Office (at the SOEC), by phoning Laura at the Vees Office, (250) 493-8337 ext. 4, or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com.