The Penticton Vees are already collecting pieces for their roster for next season.
The team announced on Thursday that 2002-born forward Cole Shepard has committed for 2018 and will be an affiliate player for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.
Shepard, from West Vancouver, currently plays for Delta Academy Prep in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. He has three goals and seven assists in seven games. In the 2016-17 season with the Delta Bantam team, Shepard recorded 19 goals and 28 assists in 30 games.
“Cole is an outstanding young talent who will fit very well into the way we play in Penticton,” said Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson in a team statement.
For Shepard, the success and pedigree of the Vees franchise was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
“This is an organization that’s known throughout junior hockey as one of the best places to play,” Shepard said. “Fred, the rest of the coaching staff and the facilities are top notch. I’m a fast, creative guy who likes putting up points, but I know I have to crack down on defence too.”
Earlier this week, Shepard was named to Team British Columbia for the newly-branded WHL Cup, formerly known as the Western Canada U-16 Challenge Cup. The event features the highest-rated players in the under-16 age category from the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The tournament takes place from Oct. 18 through Oct. 22 in Calgary. Vees assistant coach Jason Becker will serve in the same position for Team B.C. in the WHL Cup.
Because of his age, Shepard is ineligible to play for the Vees for the majority of the year. He is available as an affiliate for up to five games during the regular season. Once his season with Delta comes to an end, he can suit up with the Vees regularly.