South Okanagan Events Centre/Facebook

Vees in the offseason: August 2020


From cold drinks to outdoor patios, the start of August is time to relax and enjoy the sun.

The Penticton Vees started preparations for the upcoming season with players hitting the ice for the start of camp, and the front office also made a few transactions along the way to bolster the squad. At the same time, former Vees started their quest for the Stanley Cup.

Skill and conditioning camps took place from August 24-26, and the Identification camp was from the 28-30.

However, president, general manager, and head coach Fred Harbinson was busy on the phones wheeling and dealing. In the middle of the month, the Vees announced that forward Matteo Costantini has committed to the Vees for the 2020-21 season.

Costantini, 17, comes to the Peach City after a great season with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. He registered 36 goals and 32 assists for 68 points in 50 games while adding another ten points in six playoff games. The Ontario native took some hardware this past season, earning rookie of the year and top prospect awards while ranking 96th by NHL Central Scouting for the upcoming draft.

The Vees also added a pair of blueliners for the 2020-21 season in 17-year-olds Jack Bar and Tanner Komzak. Bar spent the last few seasons with St. Andrew’s College in Ontario. The 6’2, 194 lb. Newmarket, Ontario native had 18 goals and 52 points in 49 games.

Once Bar steps foot in Penticton, he will have a familiar face as he is reunited with Devlin O’Brien, who also was at St. Andrew’s. Bar is committed to Harvard College for 2021 and eligible for the 2021 NHL draft, where he could be picked in the first three rounds.

Komzak spent the 2019-20 season with the Langley Rivermen. He adds size to the blue line, clocking in at 6’4″ and 190 lbs. He had one goal and three assists in 38 games with the Rivermen this past season. Before joining the BCHL Komzak, played with the West Van Hockey Academy of the Canadian Sports School Hockey League.

The month’s final transaction was when the Vees acquired defensemen Owen Murray from the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in exchange for future considerations.

Murray, 17, had a tremendous rookie year in 2018-19, posting nine goals and 32 assists for 41 points in 55 games and added another seven points in 15 playoff games. Murray collected the rookie of the year for the MJHL and was named to the all-rookie team.

This past season, he had 26 points in 30 games. The Decker, Manitoba native has committed to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The boys in the bubble

Troy Stecher, Duncan Keith, and Tyson Jost were among the players who suited up for the NHL return to play. While Jost was already guaranteed a spot in the 2020 playoffs, the same could not be said for Stecher and Keith, who had to play in the qualifying round.

Stecher and the Canucks took on the Minnesota Wild, and Keith and his Blackhawks took on the fifth seed Edmonton Oilers.

It was an emotional series for Stecher, who lost his father during the NHL pause earlier this year. Stecher scored his first goal since his father’s passing, and the emotions ran wild not only for him but also for his teammates. Stecher and the Canucks beat the Wild and earned a place in the Stanley Cup playoffs, where they took on the defending champion St. Louis Blues.

The Canucks took the series against the Blues in six games and surprised a few people while making some noise. Stecher and the Canucks are currently taking on the Vegas Golden Knights, and it’s safe to say they are massive underdogs.

Keith and the Hawks entered the qualifying round as the 12th seed, where it was expected that the Oilers would win the series and advance however that was not the case. Keith led the blue line and helped Chicago reach the playoffs where the Blackhawks took on the Knights. Vegas beat Chicago in five games, and thus sent Keith packing and out of the bubble.

Jost and the Avalanche secured the postseason with a great regular season. In the first round of the playoffs, the Avalanche took on the Phoenix Coyotes. They took care of business and beat the Coyotes in five games to advance to round two of the playoffs. Currently, Jost is taking on the BCHL alum Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars.

It was a jam-packed August with new names and faces and former Vees trying to make their dreams into reality and lift the Stanley Cup, now we will see what next month has in store.