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Penticton alumni through the years

The Penticton Vees franchise has had a few names in their history like Broncos, Knights and Panthers. Despite the name changes, the franchise itself has had quite the list of players who have gone on to ply their trade in the NHL.

Without any hockey or sports at all during this difficult period in the world, let’s take a look at those alumni and see what they are doing now. Some you may know and some might surprise and shock you.

First and foremost, there are more players, but I selected a few that stood throughout their history when the team was called the Vees, Panthers, and Knights.

The Vees

Let’s begin with the players who played in Penticton when the team was called the Vees but before that, a quick history.

The team was called the Junior Vees from 1961-1963 and then in 1975 until 1979, just the Vees. Then the name came back in 2004. The Vees that I’ll look at are the ones from 2004 until now. 

Dante Fabbro

Coquitlam native Dante Fabbro played two years for the Vees. As a right-shot defenceman, Fabbro managed 100 points in 89 games. Fabbro and teammate Tyson Jost, who we will talk about next, were both drafted in the first round of the 2016 NHL draft both as Vees. Fabbro went 17th and Jost 10th overall.

After his draft season, Fabbro skated for Boston University where he spent three years and played exceptionally well. Fabbro signed his entry-level contract in March 2019 with the Nashville Predators. Currently, he is playing in the NHL and has 11 points in 64 games this season. 

Tyson Jost

Tyson Jost, the highest-drafted Vees player ever, was selected by the Colorado Avalanche 10th overall. In his first appearance in Penticton, he skated in three games as an affiliate player.

However, the following two seasons, Jost played a total of 94 games and managed to rack up 149 points. Following his draft, Jost went to the University of North Dakota for a season. Since his year at UND, Jost has skated in 208 games and has 72 points in the NHL.

Beau Bennett

Beau Bennett played in Penticton during the 2009-10 season which was his draft year. That year, Bennett had a whopping 120 points in just 56 games which saw him selected as the 20th overall pick. The Pittsburgh Penguins had the pick and selected Bennett, but his NHL career hasn’t panned out exactly the way he had hoped.

After his draft, he spent two years at the University of Denver and followed that up with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, which is Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate.

From 2012-16, Bennett was up and down between the NHL and AHL. In 2016, Bennett signed a one year deal with the Devils, and the following year he signed with the Blues. Since turning pro, Bennett can now be classified as a journeyman, with even a stint in the KHL. Currently, Bennett is playing with the Tucson Roadrunners.

Troy Stecher

Troy Stecher, the native of Richmond, BC, spent three years with the Vees from 2010-2013 before leaving for the University of North Dakota. In Penticton, Stecher played in 159 games and tallied 109 points.

Coming out of university, he was an unrestricted free agent and eligible to sign with any NHL team. Stecher had several suitors but eventually chose to play for his hometown Vancouver Canucks.

In his NHL career, Stecher has been a solid defenceman who can jump onto any paring. Since entering the league in 2016, he has put up 75 points in 286 games.

Ryan Johansen

Before starting his NHL career, most people would recognize Ryan Johansen as a Portland Winterhawk, but he played the 2008-09 season in Penticton.

It wasn’t a stellar season points-wise with just 17 in 47 games, but the following two years in the WHL, Johansen had 161 points which made him a can’t miss prospect.

With the fourth overall pick, the Columbus Blue Jackets took Johansen in the 2010 draft. As a Blue Jacket, he made an all-star appearance in 2015. However, the next season Johansen was traded to the Nashville Predators for Seth Jones.

After the trade, Johansen and the Predators made it to the Stanley Cup finals but due to a knee injury, Johansen was unable to play. So far in his career, Johansen has 660 games under his belt with 442 points. He is in the second year of an eight-year contract that carries an $8-million cap hit.

The Panthers

Now let’s talk about a few players who played in Penticton from 1990 to 2004 when the team name was the Panthers. As we step into the 90s and early 2000s, let’s see who donned the sweater during this time frame.

Paul Kariya

During this time in their history, the Panthers had a special player named Paul Kariya. Kariya joined the Panthers in the 1990-9 season was there until the end of the 1991-92 season. In the two seasons he was in Penticton, Kariya had 244 points in just 97 games.

After leaving Penticton, Kariya joined the University of Maine where he played extraordinarily and drew comparisons to Wayne Gretzky. With the fourth selection of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, the Anaheim Ducks, formerly known as the Mighty Ducks, used their pick to take Kariya. He played 15 years in the NHL for the Ducks, Avalanche, Predators, and the Blues.

As for his accomplishments, he captained the Ducks for six seasons while taking them to the Stanley Cup final in 2003 where they lost to the Devils. He was named to the All-Rookie team and was an all-star seven times during his career. He won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1996 and 1997 and has his number nine is retired by the Ducks. Internationally, he won the gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Kariya was exactly a point per game player in his NHL career with 989 points in 989 games. In 2017, he was awarded the highest achievement possible, induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Currently, Kariya resides in California and has become an avid surfer which was documented in a TSN documentary feature called ‘Surfacing’.

Brendan Morrison

Brendan Morrison, for Canucks fans, is someone who centered the iconic West Coast Express line in the early 2000s along with running mates Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi. Before Morrison began his NHL career, he played one season for the Panthers and registered 94 points in 56 games.

Morrison was drafted in the second round of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils but it wasn’t until he got traded to Vancouver that he hit his stride. During his time in the NHL, he picked up 601 points in 934 games before hanging up his skates after the 2011-12 season. Morrison hasn’t been involved in the game directly, but still makes appearances at Canucks games and was part of this past season’s 50th celebration for the team.

Duncan Keith

Another member of the Panthers era was Duncan Keith. Keith played in Penticton for two seasons from 1999 to 2001. He skated in 119 games and tallied 118 points. Following his two years in Penticton, Keith joined Michigan State University and the Chicago Blackhawks took him in the second round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, which in hindsight is a steal.

Keith returned to the Okanagan in the 2002-03 season, but not in the BCHL as he joined the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. The two seasons that followed saw Keith spend some time in the AHL where he worked on his craft. The 2005-06 season was his rookie year for the Blackhawks. It could have been a year earlier but let’s not talk about what happened to the 2004-05 NHL season. Since joining the NHL, Keith has had a lengthy career and is one of the most decorated alumni the Vees franchise has seen.

In his 15 seasons and counting in the league, Keith has three Stanley Cups, two Norris Trophies, two Olympic gold medals and a Conn Smythe Trophy to name just a few. Along with those achievements, Keith has been an all-star four times and was named as one of the top 100 players in history by the NHL.

He has played in 1,138 games and posted 610 points so far in his career. The 36-year-old has three years left in the 13-year contract he signed in 2010 at a modest cap hit of $5.53 million. It is safe to assume his next stop is the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Knights

From 1979-90, the Penticton team was called the Knights and had quite a list of players who have done great things, but the two I highlight in his era might be a surprise.

Ray Ferraro

Ray Ferraro might be a surprise name for some, but he played in Penticton when the team was named the Knights in the 1981-82 campaign. In that one season, Ferraro posted 135 points in just 48 games in his draft year and the Hartford Whalers selected him in the 5th round with the 88th pick. Before jumping to the NHL, Ferraro played in the WHL and AHL. It wasn’t until the 1984-85 season when he made his big league debut. During his 18 years in the NHL, he played for the Whalers, Islanders, Kings, Thrashers, and Blues. He finished with 1,258 games and 898 points.

Since retiring from the game in August 2002, he has been broadcasting. He started at ESPN and worked for NHL on NBC and regional work in other markets. Ferraro is a constant in the NHL video game series since 2014, providing in-game colour commentary. Along with that, Ferraro works for TSN as colour commentator and does radio hits on all TSN platforms such has TSN1040 in Vancouver.

Brett Hull

Brett Hull is a surprise even for myself, but he did play in the Peach City.  Before going to college and turning pro, Hull spent two years in Penticton in the early 80s. He played in 107 games and popped in 292 points.

Like Keith, Hull was named one of the top 100 NHLers of all time by the league back in 2017. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 alongside a star-studded class including Lou Lamoriello, Brian Leetch, Luc Robitaille, and Steve Yzerman.

In his 19-year hall of fame career, Hull averaged well over a point per game with 1,391 points in 1,269 games. His NHL journey started with the Calgary Flames who selected him in the sixth round of the 1984 Entry Draft. Along with the Flames, Hull suited up for the Blues, Stars, Wings, and Coyotes.

Hull won two Stanley Cups, one with the Stars and the other with the Red Wings. Individually, he was an eight-time all-star and won the Hart, Lady Byng, and Ted Lindsay (formerly known as Lester B. Pearson) trophies. Since his retirement in 2005, Hull lives in St. Louis and is an avid member of the Blues alumni, which was full-on display during their Stanley Cup run in 2019.