West Kelowna Warriors are part of a new 5-team interior division

BCHL realign divisions

The BC Hockey League is shuffling the deck as it gets set to welcome five former Alberta Junior Hockey League teams to the fold on a full-time basis next season.

With the addition of Brooks, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, Blackfalds and Okotoks and the loss of the Merritt Centennials, the BCHL will open up the 2024-2025 season with 21 teams based out of two conferences and four divisions.

The West Kelowna Warriors will be joined by Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm and Trail to make up the Interior West Division while the Cranbrook Bucks will be slotted in with the five Alberta teams to make up the Interior East Division.

The four Vancouver Island teams, Victoria, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo and Alberni Valley will be joined by Powell River to make up the Coastal West Division while Prince George makes the leap from the interior to the coastal side joining Chilliwack, Langley, Coquitlam and reigning Fred Page Cup champion Surrey in the Coastal East Division.

The playoff format will remain the same with the top eight teams in each conference advancing to the post season.

The schedule is expected to be released next week.

During its recently completed annual general meeting, the board of governors adopted a coaches challenge which will be used on a trial basis at the league Showcase only.

Under the pilot, coaches would be allowed to challenge unpenalized plays to determine whether a double-minor, major or match penalty should be assessed.

Unsuccessful challenges would result in the team being hit with a delay of game penalty.

The board also approved using universal affiliate players, meaning affiliated players from the Junior Prospects Hockey League and Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League would be able to suit up for any team during the season.

In other news, Trail Smoke Eaters owner Rich Murphy was elected chair of the BCHL board, replacing Graham Fraser who stepped down after six years.

The contracts of commissioner Steve Cocker and VP of hockey operations Brad Lazarowich were also extended.

Penticton Vees announce signing of four players to next seasons lineup

Vees reveal new players

The Penticton Vees Junior Hockey has announced the signing of two defenceman and two forwards for the 2024-25 season this week.

Defenceman Julien Wasmer, defenceman Michael Fisher, forward Luke Posthumus and forward Caton Ryan will be suiting up for the BCHL team.

Wasmer comes to Penticton after spending the last two seasons with the Smiths Falls Bears in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) and won a silver medal with Team Canada East at the 2023 World Junior A Challenge in Truro, NS.

The 6’3, 185-pound defenceman earned 41 points (7G, 34A) in 88 career regular season games. He had 12 points (5G, 7A) in 19 career postseason games.

Fisher comes to Penticton after spending this past season playing NCAA Division l men’s hockey at Northeastern University.

The 6’3 195-pound right-shot defenceman was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the third round, 76th overall, in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Fisher, who turned 20 in May, suited up for 30 games with the Northeastern Huskies and finished with two points (1G, 1A) and was part of the Huskies 2024 men’s Beanpot championship squab, as the Huskies beat Boston University in the Final.

Prior to Northeastern, Fisher played for the Youngstown Phantoms in the United States Hockey League (USHL) in 2022-23.

Entering his third season of junior hockey, Posthumus spent the 2023-24 season with the Tri-City Storm in the United States Hockey League (USHL).

In 38 regular season games with the Storm this past season, he posted three goals and 13 points. Prior to the USHL, the 5’11, 187-pound forward played for the Nepean Raiders in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL).

Posthumus led the Raiders in goals (19), assists (29), and points (48) during the 2022-23 regular season. He was named the CCHL Rookie of the Year that season.

Another product of the CCHL is joining the team, with Ryan who spent the 2023-24 season with the Carleton Place Canadians.

Ryan, who turns 18 later this month, led the Canadians in scoring this past season, after he posted 59 points (24G, 35A) in 55 games. He finished 10th in CCHL scoring. He added six points (2G, 4A) in five playoff games.

He was named to the CCHL All-Rookie Team in the 2022-23 season after he tallied 38 points (14G, 24A) in 55 games as a 16-year-old.

The Vees organization said they are excited to welcome all the players and their families to the South Okanagan for the upcoming season.

Penticton Vees name rising defenceman Larry Keenan as playoff MVP

Vees name playoff MVP

The Penticton Vees have announced that defenceman Larry Keenan has been named the team’s BCHL playoff MVP.

While the Vees did not succeed in capturing their third straight Fred Page Cup win, losing to the Surrey Eagles in Game Six of the finals, the organization wanted to celebrate Keenan's contribution to the team in the playoffs.

“Larry elevated his game throughout the entire two-month playoff run. His play with and without the puck was a major contributor to our 14 playoff wins,” said Vees president, general manager and head coach Fred Harbinson.

Keenan, 19, led all the Vees’ defenceman with nine points in 22 games. He is a Detroit Red Wings prospect and was integral piece to the Vees' run to the Fred Page Cup Final.

Next season Keenan will play at the University of Massachusetts in Hockey East. The 6’4, 194-pound defenceman was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the fourth round, 117th overall, in the 2023 NHL Draft.

The Penticton Vees couldn't force a game seven, losing 3-1 to the Surrey Eagles in the finals

Vees come up short

The Surrey Eagles have won the BCHL championship.

The Eagles beat the Penticton Vees 3-1 at the South Okanagan Event Centre on Sunday night.

The Eagles won the best-of-seven Fred Page Cup Final series four games to two.

For the last two years The Vees have taken home the coveted Fred Page Cup, and had been hoping to make this year three in a row.

But they struggled to get the puck in the net Sunday night, only scoring once in the last half of the third period, while already down by three goals.

Despite the final push, the Vees lost and the Eagles are bringing the cup home.

Penticton Vees down game wins to Surrey Eagles in Fred Page Cup after their 4-0 loss

Eagles getting ahead of Vees

The Penticton Vees are facing elimination after their 4-0 loss to the Surrey Eagles Friday at South Surrey Arena.

The Eagles now lead the best-of-seven Fred Page Cup Final 3-2 after taking game five.

Penticton had another troublesome start, as the Eagles went ahead by a pair of goals in the first seven minutes of the game.

The Eagles opened the scoring with Evan Brown tippin ign a point shot past Vees’ goaltender Andrew Ness. Then, just over a minute later, Ryden Evers doubled Surrey’s lead as he jammed in a round from inside the Penticton crease for the 2-0 lead.

Ryan Evenhuis put the Eagles up 3-0 just before the five-minute mark of the second, as his pass went off the defenceman’s skate and trickled into the net.

Rylan Bonkowski finished off the scoring in the third period for the Eagles. The Surrey defenceman scored his first of the playoffs, on a power-play, just 15 seconds after the penalty was called.

Penticton will look to force game seven, when they host the Eagles in game six Sunday, at the South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC). The Vees are 2-0 when facing elimination so far in this postseason.

The Vees face off Sunday, May 26, at the SOEC; with puck drop at 5 p.m. Tickets available at www.valleyfirsttix.com. SOEC box office is open Saturday, May 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Opens again on Sunday, May 26, at 10 a.m.

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