Penticton Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson believes that new co-captain Grant Cruikshank could pot at least 40 goals next season in the B.C. Hockey League. Cruikshank, pictured in Royal Bank Cup action against the Trenton Golden Hawks, is returning with a focus on playing more consistent. Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images

Vees to possess more offence, skill

Penticton Vees coach-GM believes team will have more offence and skill

The 2017-18 version of the Penticton Vees should possess more offense and skill.

That’s what Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson, the architect of the group, feels. Returning players include co-captains Owen Sillinger and Grant Cruikshank, joined by Chris Klack, Taylor Ward, Turner Ripplinger and Jared Nash, along with defenceman Jonny Tychonick, Joey Leahy, Greg Brydon and Kenny Johnson and in goal is Nolan Hildebrand. They are joined by new recruits; goalie Adam Scheel, defenceman Nicky Leivermann, Garrett Ewert, Ryan O’Connell and Luke Reid. Up front are Cassidy Bowes, who saw playoff action as an affiliate player, Jack Barnes, Cam Hillis, Ryan Sandelin and Lukas Sillinger, brother of Owen. The Vees will know in two weeks whether they will have Massimo Rizzo.

“We’re definitely deeper (upfront) as far as the skill goes,” said Harbinson. “I thought Ward had an outstanding playoffs. Cruikshank had 32 goals as a rookie. You can only imagine how he is going to take off this year. Jared Nash had a great playoffs.”

Related: Klack, 20, returning for final season

Harbinson liked the way Hildebrand performed in practice during the playoffs and believes he will take another step. With Cruikshank, Harbinson said the Wisconsin Badger-commit decided to return to become a more consistent player. After struggling in the opening round of the playoffs, Cruikshank was outstanding the Vees coach said and believes the players could top 40 goals.

Among the returning defenceman, Harbinson said Johnson created space for teammates playing a physical game and shows flashes of offence. He hopes the brother of NHL defenceman Jack Johnson can take another step. Leahy had a solid rookie season and could have an even stronger year as a 20-year-old. The key player to Harbinson is Tychonick. While playing a limited role near the end, Harbinson felt the Calgary native was just as good as other 16-year-olds they have had in the past.

“I think as a 17 year old he is going to be a big piece of what we’re doing,” said Harbinson. “He can skate, he is going to increase his strength. Things to work on had to do with strength. That comes with time.”

Harbinson believes they are ahead of where they were this time last year.

“This group has it right in their blood that they know what it takes to win in the playoffs,” he said.

Vees notes: The Alberta Junior Hockey League champs announced on Twitter that they will host the B.C. Hockey League champs on Labour Day weekend for a pair of exhibition games on Sept. 1 and 2. This will be the second pre-season series between the teams. The Bandits came to Penticton in September of 2015. It will be the first time that the Vees will travel to Brooks since the 2012 Doyle Cup.



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Penticton Vees defenceman Jonny Tychonick enters the zone of the Trenton Golden Hawks during Royal Bank Cup action. Tychonick will be a key part of the Vees defence core for 2017-18 B.C. Hockey League season. Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images

Just Posted

Police seeking info on fake-bearded robber

A man reportedly left empty-handed after demanding cash with an apparent handgun at a pawn shop

Information gathered about development

Summerland municipal website has details about Banks Crescent proposal

Quest Out West returns with even more wild food

Penticton Indian Band member launches season two of her program this week

Kelowna West byelection called for Feb. 14

Four candidate race to replace departed former B.C. premier Christy Clark

Dine Around Thompson Okanagan kicks off

Fifty restaurants in the region will participate in this year’s event

Food industry failing at voluntary sodium reduction: Health Canada

Health Canada report shows the food industry made no meaningful progress in curtailing salt levels

Accused in Kelowna murder heads to court

Chad Alphonse is accused of killing Waylon Percy Junior Jackson, back in 2016

Head on collision closes Trans-Canada west of Revelstoke

Two tractor-trailers collided on Highway 1 forcing the closure of the road, no detour is available

Athlete of the week

The Penticton Western News athlete of the week for Jan. 15

Best B.C. cities to live in: millennial edition

Other local municipalities score at bottom of list from real estate blog

Look for the hope in her eyes

Two Kelowna charities put on a fundraiser to help marginalized women

LIVE: Solitary confinement in Canadian prisons unconstitutional: B.C. Supreme Court

Associations argued that solitary confinement was inhuman

1 in 4 B.C. consumers unable to pay bills, debt repayment: poll

Since interest rates first rose in July, poll suggests households across B.C. have had to tighten budget

Most Read