Young player granted exceptional status to join the BC Hockey League

Special status to join league

For the first time in league history, a 15-year-old player has been granted exceptional status for the BC Hockey League and will receive early eligibility.

Both the Penticton Vees and the BCHL made the announcement on Friday that 2009-born Eli McKamey from Cowichan Bay, B.C. would be joining the team for the 2024-25 season.

Without this framework, McKamey would not have been eligible to play in the league until the 2025-26 season.

“This is an exciting moment for the BCHL and obviously our organization. Eli McKamey is an exceptional talent that was rated as the number one forward for the past WHL draft,” Vees’ President, General Manager & Head Coach Fred Harbinson said in the press release.

“Eli will be the next young elite player to wear a Vees jersey with the hope of winning a championship in Penticton on route to college and the NHL.”

McKamey, who turned 15 in January, has played at Shawnigan Lake School in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) for the past three seasons, most recently suiting up for the U18 team and putting up 23 goals, 25 assists and 48 points in 28 games.

According to the BCHL, he is considered a highly regarded prospect for the 2027 NHL Entry Draft.

“I believe playing for the Penticton Vees is a great opportunity for development as a player and as a person,” McKamey said.

“Playing in the BCHL allows me to keep my future options open, while still playing in a highly competitive league. I’m excited for the challenge.”

The BCHL Board of Governors voted in favour of adding an exceptional status application process after the recent Semi-Annual Governors Meeting in January.

Early eligibility can be given to players who possess exceptional traits in hockey and athletic acumen, mental and physical maturity, work ethic and education.

Players can apply for exceptional status through the team they wish to commit to.

Once an application is received by the league office, a selection committee makes a ruling on whether to accept or deny the application.

“We are thrilled to welcome Eli and the McKamey family to the BCHL,” League Commissioner Steven Cocker said.

“Eli not only possesses an elite skillset to transition to the league but has the intangibles off the ice that will allow him to excel as an exceptional student athlete in college hockey and beyond.”

“The level of talent and interest in the BCHL has never been stronger. We look forward to continued growth as a leader, not only in the development of great athletes for college hockey, but great people as well.”

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