Vees' newest addition already at home with new mates

PENTICTON VEES forward Travis Blanleil gets caught by Vernon Vipers defenceman Dylan Chanter in BCHL action at Kal Tire Place in Vernon on Friday night. The Vees won the battle between the Interior Division rivals 2-1. - Lisa VanderVelde/Black Press
PENTICTON VEES forward Travis Blanleil gets caught by Vernon Vipers defenceman Dylan Chanter in BCHL action at Kal Tire Place in Vernon on Friday night. The Vees won the battle between the Interior Division rivals 2-1.
— image credit: Lisa VanderVelde/Black Press

Welcome, Shane McColgan, the Penticton Vees’ newest and final addition this season.

Vees general manager Fred Harbinson made the move before the BCHL trade deadline Jan. 10 to add the last piece to what he hopes turns into a championship puzzle.

The Vees traded 20-year-old defenceman Blake Butzow to the Cowichan Valley Capitals for future considerations. Harbinson said that move cleared their earlier deal that brought Steen Cooper from Cowichan Valley, but also allowed them to make room to eventually sign McColgan. It also enables them to give Jarod Hilderman a bigger role.

“We thought that Jarod Hilderbrand really progressed over the course of the year, he probably deserved a little better ice time,” said Harbinson. “By moving Blake, it gave him an opportunity to play top minutes in Cowichan.”

The addition of McColgan, who spent three full seasons with the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL, gives the Vees more depth up front. Harbinson said the move does leave the team with six defenceman, but the staff feel their blue line is capable of carrying the load.

“We have done a good job of keeping pucks out of our own end, out of our net and hopefully that will continue,” he said.

Harbinson likes that McColgan was a point-per-game player in the WHL, and also played five games in the American Hockey League with the Connecticut Whale.

In a team statement, Harbinson said “Shane’s junior numbers (84 goals, 270 points in 287 games) speak for themselves.”

“Adding him to our top line, that already includes two of the BCHL’s top three goal-scorers, will clearly make our team that much more dynamic,” said Harbinson. “Shane has also played in two Memorial Cups. That type of experience is invaluable come playoff time.”

After spending last season with Memorial Cup host Saskatoon Blades, McColgan dressed in just 10 games this season with the Portland Winterhawks due to injury.

McColgan is happy to join the Vees. A friend of former Vee Beau Bennett growing up in Manhattan Beach, Calif., McColgan would like nothing more than to win a championship in his final junior season.

“It’s flown by, so I’d like to go out with a bang,” he said.

On Monday, he took part in his first practice.

“It was a good practice, some good flow,” said McColgan, who skated with Brad McClure and Nic Pierog. “We got some good touches on the power play. I’m excited for things to get going on Wednesday.”

McClure, the Vees captain, said while it was difficult to see Butzow traded as he was a big part of the team, it’s something they have to accept.

“It’s for the better of the team,” said McClure.

McClure said getting McColgan is huge, especially with his experience. McClure was impressed by what he saw from the newcomer in his first practice and his presence in the dressing room.

“He seems like a good character guy in the room,” said McClure. “He already seems pretty comfortable.”

When it comes to bolstering the forward groups, McClure said anyone can be played from the first to fourth line.

“It just pushes us all to be good every night,” he said. “It will push us to be better players.”

After getting road wins in Vernon, 2-1 on Friday, and Trail, 3-2 on Saturday, the Vees are set to host the West Kelowna Warriors Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre at 7 p.m. McClure said the two losses to the Warriors prior to the Christmas break have not been forgotten.

In other Vees news, Jack Ramsey, Brett Beauvais, Hunter Miska and future Vee Warren Foegele are on the list for the NHL Central Scouting rankings for the 2014 NHL Draft.

“That’s huge for those guys,” said McClure. “I think it will help them the further we go. Good for them and for the team.”

Foegele, who is playing high school prep hockey for the Varsity squad at St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ont., is ranked 62nd and has 29 goals and 56 points in 26 games. He is committed to the University of New Hampshire for 2015.

Beauvais is ranked 134th.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Beauvais. “Good to see some other guys on there as well.”

Beauvais said the rankings isn’t something he thinks about. If he does, it just creates stress. However, Beauvais is using his ranking as a motivator.

“We have a big stretch going with the team. When you see personal achievements like that as you go, it definitely motivates you,” he said.

Ramsey is ranked 151st, while Miska is ranked 32nd among 34 goalies.


Vees notes: The BCHL division leaders are now ranked ninth in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, climbing from their No.11 position. Brad McClure ranks 19th in Canada for scoring with 32 goals and 60 points

in 41 games. Defenceman Chris Rygus will miss Wednesday's game and Friday in Merritt as he serves a two-game suspension for a blow to the head in their 3-2 win against Trail Jan.11.



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