PENTICTON – It’s some of the best live-action hockey you’ll find in the Okanagan.
Monday was the fourth and final day of the Young Stars hockey tournament in Penticton, where the top prospects of four NHL teams try to impress the coaches.
“A great way to kick off the hockey season is to come watch the young stars and see what the future of the NHL is going to look like,” says Penticton mayor Andrew Jakubeit who is also chairperson of the tournament organizing committee.
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With every game pretty much a sellout, some 26,000 tickets have been sold. That’s up about 8,500 over last year.
“The building is busy, the city is busy. It’s a great way to showcase the city and the venue because there’s so much media exposure. There is 150 media covering the Young Stars tournament and talking about Penticton,” says Jakubeit.
“For us it’s all about economic impact,” says South Okanagan Events Centre general manager Dean Clarke. “Our job is to bring people to the community and we use this venue to do that. (This tournament) stretches our staff and stretches our abilities but we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
A big letdown for many fans, especially those who travelled from Edmonton, is Conner McDavid played just one of the Oilers three games.
“That’s a disappointment to all of us,” says one man wearing an Edmonton jersey. “We’d like to see him play but we realize tough coaching decisions have to be made. We need to manage that asset.”
McDavid was the number one pick in the NHL draft in June.
Besides the Oilers, the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets participated in the tournament.