The Penticton Vees have begun their return to prominance. Starting in the late 90s when it produced NHL players such as Chuck Kobasew and Duncan Keith, the franchise suffered recruiting wise because of dissatisfaction with Coach Bryan Perrier's style. Last season brought new ownership, and with it a new Coach in alum Bruno Campese, and new local recruits. Today's Wisconsin State Journal mentions that forward Brian Lebler (Penticton-BCHL), son of Badger Ed Lebler, has a scholarship offer from Wisconsin, and will decide between Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State.
Defenseman T.J. Miller, a native Californian who played significant minutes last year with Surrey, recently accepted Northern Michigan's scholarship offer. The playmaking defenseman on the squad is Ontario import Deron Cousens, who earned Rookie of the Year honors last year in the OPJHL. Another rookie defenseman is Ryan Wagner, who won the Saskatchewan Midget League's top defenseman honors over Eric Gryba. He's a 5'10 powerplay quarterback, but probably will take another year of juniors.
Robert Skinner is the playmaking center who has originated most of the passes for Lebler's goals. An '88 skilled prospect, he has lots of skills and vision, but is a very slight build that probably would benefit with more time at the junior level. He also is unselfish to a fault, meaning he scores few goals. Another new recruit who is in a recruiting battle is Evan Trupp. Trupp's father also played with Penticton before moving up to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. A speedy dangerous forward, Trupp has an offer from his hometown Anchorage squad. Unfortunately, big winger Alex MacLeod's knee injury has put him on the shelf for the season.
Notes out West:
The paths of two promising Alberta rookies collided last weekend, when 16 year old Spruce Grove rookie scoring sensation Jesse Martin (13 points in his first 8 games) was hammered into the boards by 17 year old defender Ian Barteaux of Ft.Saskatchewan. Martin lay motionless on the ice for several minutes and appears to have suffered a significant head injury, and will miss substantial part of the year. Barteaux received a 10 minute match misconduct and has been suspended indefinitely by the league while it evaluates the appropriate penalty -- expected to be a lengthy suspension.
An intersting note on Notre Dame's Blake Gallagher, who is tearing up the Jr.A circuit with 10 goals in his first 10 games. Because of the new Canadian Hockey rules on out-of-province players under the age of 18, Gallagher technically is an "affiliated" player on the Jr.A squad, meaning he has to play at least half of the season with the Notre Dame midget Hounds. As a result, he'll have to suit up for 22 midget contests in addition to the 55-game Jr.A slate.