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Penticton's Jost, Fabbro not vying for draft position

by Aaron Vickers

Every Thursday, will look ahead to the 2016 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

There's no competition between teammates, Penticton Vees forward Tyson Jost declared.

Not even amongst roommates, either.

Bragging rights aren't on the line in whether he or Vees defenseman Dante Fabbro is first to hear his name called in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The pair, who share the same billet and have been attached at the hip the past couple years, isn't about the tongue-in-cheek rivalry.

Bragging rights aren't on the line in whether Tyler Jost or Dante Fabbro of the Penticton Vees is first to hear his name called in the 2016 NHL Draft. (Photo: Cherie Morgan Photography)

"No, no, not at all," said Jost, who captains the Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League. "People probably wonder who's going to go higher and whatnot, and I went higher in the [Western Hockey League] Draft than he did by one spot. Honestly, we don't care at all. If Dante goes higher than me, I'm going to be really happy for him. He's one of my best buddies. I'll be just as happy if he gets drafted higher than if I do. It's a cool experience to have a buddy with you. We're not really focused on who goes higher."

It was Jost who was selected seventh in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. Fabbro went eighth, though neither chose the major junior route to retain NCAA eligibility.

Those results didn't earn Jost the one-up. The next one won't either.

"It's definitely a unique experience for both of us," said Fabbro, a Boston University commit. "I think either of us would be happier if either of us went higher. It goes both ways. He's been one of my best buddies these last few years here and living with him. He's always been there along the way. I'll be happy for him if he goes higher. Right now, me and him are pretty set on focusing on this year right now and bringing home some championships."

Championships have yet to be determined, but they've certainly brought in scouts.

Tucked into the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia's southern interior, the small city of Penticton is a can't-miss summer destination. The pair of 17-year-olds is making it a hot stop this winter too.

Jost and Fabbro, part of Canada's gold-medal entry at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in August, have attracted the attention of more than a few well in advance of the draft. Each received A ratings from NHL Central Scouting in its November players to watch list for the 2016 NHL Draft, released Tuesday.

Each has felt the increased attention from scouts long before the recent release though.

"You see them around the rink and me and Dante, we meet with them one-on-one usually after, all that stuff that goes along with the NHL Draft this year," said Jost, a University of North Dakota commit who leads the BCHL with 31 assists and 54 points through 26 games. "It's a distraction and it's around you, but it's something you have to take step-by-step and not focus on too much because you know it's going to be there.

"You have to take it as a positive experience, and it really helps having Dante beside, a buddy you can go and share these experiences with. There's a lot of scouts coming to our games, but it's good to see. You have to take it as a positive to showcase your skills and talent. It helps when your team is doing so well too. I'm sure everybody on our team is getting noticed, for sure."

The focus isn't on the NHL Draft though, at least not yet.

Fronting the BCHL's hottest team with a 24-2-0-0 record, the focus remains on Vees-first goals.

"Obviously there's not many kids that get to go through the experience we're going through right now," said Fabbro, who leads all BCHL defensemen in scoring with 24 assists and 31 points in 20 games. "It's been surreal lately. Me and him are taking [it in] stride, but at the same time it's something we can't think about too much. We've got to focus on the season and doing well as a team and hopefully bringing back some championships to Penticton. When the summer comes, we can worry about where we sit there. It's pretty early on in the season right now. A lot can happen in a year. We have to keep working hard and hope for the best for the team."

Personal success, the pair expects, will come after team success.

Each players aims for it through bit of an unconventional route.

Travis Zajac, the 20th pick in the 2004 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils, and Kris Chucko, who went 24th to the Calgary Flames that same year, reign as the last set of BCHL teammates to be selected in the first round together.

The previous time two non-teammates were selected in the first round from the BCHL came in 2007. Kyle Turris was drafted third by the Phoenix Coyotes, and Riley Nash 21st by the Edmonton Oilers. Turris remains the highest player ever drafted out of the BCHL.

Beau Bennett, selected 20th by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2010, is the last player selected in the first round out of the BCHL.

Fabbro and Jost shouldn't be discouraged by past frequency though.

"It shouldn't be a challenge for any of them because they should all want to work hard to excel for the betterment of their team and themselves," said Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting. "What happens quite often is there are limited options where they can play before they enter an NCAA school, so it becomes having the discipline and the motivation to maintain your level of play.

"What you don't want to see happen is a player pick up some bad habits because he doesn't have to work hard to get things done. A player [who avoids] that, you know they've got a good chance to succeed as a pro."

Neither is thinking that far ahead. Each is more focused on the now.

Pushing each other. But not competing.

"Me and him live together; we're around each other all the time," Jost said. "We're always pushing each other. It's nice when you have a buddy like that, but also someone who is right there in your caliber. He's pushing you and you're pushing him. It works out great."

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