In two years, Griffin Mendel will be trading his Penticton Vees sweater for that of the Denver University Pioneers.
The Vees announced on Monday that Mendel, 16, has committed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 program and will join teammate Ben Brar.
Mendel is one of the youngest players on the Vees roster and has put up two goals and 12 points in 42 games. He is third on team in scoring for defenceman and plays a shutdown role as well as getting penalty killing time. Earlier in the season, Mendel played for Canada and won gold against Russia at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek.
Prior to joining the Vees, Mendel won a Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL) championship with the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s Prep White team. The six-foot-two defenceman had four goals and 14 points in 17 games with OHA a year ago, and was a 2014 first round Western Hockey League draft pick of the Kootenay Ice.
The Pioneers play in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) and are second all-time with seven NCAA National Championships; their last coming in 2005. Prior to joining the NCHC, Denver played in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), where they won nine WCHA regular season championships and 14 WCHA playoff championships. Denver is coached by second year bench boss Jim Montgomery and Vees alum Joey Laleggia graduated from the program last season.