The British Columbia Hockey League has announced that international hockey is returning in 2016.
Red Bull Salzburg of Austria (U20) will make a tour through B.C. in January in which they will play BCHL clubs, one of them being the Penticton Vees. Other teams for this tour are still being finalized. The Red Bull Salzburg club will be arriving in B.C. on Jan. 15 and leaving on January 28. It is expected they will be playing four or five games. Red Bull Salzburg will be in Penticton on Jan. 20 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Red Bull Salzburg has several familiar faces in its executive including club director and former NHL head coach Pierre Pagé and skills coach, former National Collegiate Athletic Association star and NHLer Brian Savage.
“This BCHL-Red Bull hockey series is a global hockey challenge which brings us all together to strive and grow, be different and significantly better,” said Pagé in a statement.
The last time an international club came through the BCHL was in the 2009-10 season when the Malmo Redhawks of Sweden played in Powell River, Alberni Valley and Nanaimo. In 2008-09, the Sweden U18 side featuring Gabriel Landeskog played a series of exhibition games against BCHL teams.
The Red Bull Salzburg club, like the BCHL teams they’ll face, include players born anywhere from 1995 to 1999. Most of the players are Austrian but there are some German-born players as well.
“We very much look forward to hosting Red Bull Salzburg in January,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale in a statement. “This is a first-rate organization and I know the club they’re sending will provide a true test for our teams and great entertainment for our fans.”
Red Bull Salzburg is coached by former Boston College standout and Carolina Hurricanes draft pick J.D. Forrest as well as former Clarkson University defenceman and Bentley University assistant coach Matt Curley.
“The players that I have had the opportunity to work with that have come from the BCHL have been not only exceptional players but more importantly exceptional people, leaders on the ice and in the community,” said Curley. “This is the overwhelming sentiment within the NCAA community and is reason why there continues to be such a strong pipeline from the BCHL to the NCAA.
“We hope to give each team and their fans a great hockey game as our team is looking forward to the challenge,” continued Curley.
Tickets for the Vees games against Red Bull Salzburg are priced at $5 for adults and seniors and students and children (18 and under) are free, courtesy of Peters Brothers Construction. Tickets for the game will go on sale Dec. 15 and season ticket holders will have two weeks to reserve their seat(s).