Only one thing could be better than Penticton, BC in September: the Vancouver Canucks in Penticton, BC in September.
The Canucks announced Wednesday that their 2010 training camp, preceded by a Young Stars prospects tournament, will be held in The Peach City for the first time.
“The Canucks have a tradition of moving their main camp throughout British Columbia and it’s terrific to be able to take it Penticton where they have a world class facility, and to return to the Okanagan Valley, where the Canucks have been extremely well received throughout their history,” said Laurence Gilman, VP of hockey operations & assistant general manager, who, alongside Stan Smyl, senior advisor to the general manager, was in Penticton to make the announcement.
Vancouver has held training camp throughout BC including in Victoria, Courtenay, Powell River, Duncan, Parksville, Kamloops, Vernon and Whistler, but never Penticton.
Everyone is in for a treat.
The fun starts on September 12 with the commencement of the Young Stars Tournament, a five-team, eight-game round robin event that will pin Vancouver’s best prospects against those of the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks.
“The Young Stars Tournament allows us to showcase and measure our prospects and show the people of the Okanagan some of the top prospects from three of our competitors,” said Gilman.
“Considerably you’re going to see either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin playing in that tournament, plus, even just to look at Edmonton alone, they’ve got Jordan Eberle and Magnus-Svensson Piravi, they’ve got some good young players coming in, as does each team.”
Whether or not Vancouver’s 2010 draft picks will compete in the tournament remains to be seen and will depend largely on how things play out for the Canucks in Los Angeles. There will be no shortage of exciting prospects from the home side, however.
“We’ll have a strong line-up ourselves with Cody Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder, Kevin Connauton and Chris Tanev, who we just signed out of college, and a lot more.”
Scouting the young guns is just the icing on the cake, which Canucks fans in the interior will get to eat too.
Canucks main camp starts Sept. 18 with the players hitting the ice for their first formal workout. The hunt for the Stanley Cup begins Day 1 of training camp and fans that attend will not only get a first hand look at the usual suspects like Roberto Luongo, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows and Vancouver’s newoff-season acquisitions, but also the incredible effort the players put in to be successful right from the beginning.
“Every year hope springs eternal and we have tremendous support throughout this province and we know that there are Canucks fans across British Columbus so we think we’ll have a tremendous turnout and the people of Penticton and of the entire Okanagan Valley will come out and support us.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a community more enthralled with hockey and with such a deep-rooted history to the game.
The Penticton Vees, a Junior "A" team founded in 1961, are one of BC’s most celebrated squads. Taking the name from the V’s, a distinguished senior team that won the Allan Cup in 1954 and a year later became the first team to represent Canada and travel across the Iron Curtain to face the Soviets Union at the Ice Hockey World Championships in West Germany, upsetting the Soviets in the gold medal game, the Junior Vees have carried on the team’s tradition of excellence.
The Vees, members of the British Columbia Hockey League, have also gone by Broncos, Knights and Panthers over the years but that never changed the franchise’s winning ways. Seven times the Vees have captured the Mowat Cup, most recently in 1986 when the team also won the Centennial Cup.
Thirty-four NHLers have cut their teeth in Penticton (Canucks grinder Tanner Glass included) and the city is waiting with bated breath for the return of NHL hockey.
“We are very excited and honored to have the Vancouver Canucks choose Penticton for the prospect tournament and main training camp for the start of their season,” said Penticton mayor Dan Ashton.
“When we built our events center part of our vision was to have the Canucks come and utilize it as a training facility. Now to have four NHL teams come to Penticton for five days, this is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our facility and community.”
Packages for the Young Stars Tournament, which include a ticket to each of the six games, will be available for purchase starting at $66 for bowl seats and $85 for club seats, plus applicable fees. The first 1,000 fans to purchase a tournament package will also receive an exclusive pass to the Canucks main training camp, giving them priority seating and access to the main camp.
Tournament ticket packages go on-sale June 26 at 10 a.m. online at www.valleyfirstTIX.com, by phone at 1-877-763-2849 or in person at the South Okanagan Events Centre box office. Single game tournament tickets will be made available in mid-August.