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Hockey history made at all-star weekend in Pentiction

Former NHLers Kyle Turris and Scott Niedermayer share a laugh on the ice during the Alumni and Friends game.
Image Credit: Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative

It was one for all and all for fun at the history-making BC Hockey League 60th Anniversary All-Star Weekend in Penticton.

For the first time since the league began in 1961 the majority of on-ice events were played outside, this time at the City of Penticton’s new downtown rink.

Even Mother Nature chipped in to help make some long-lasting, winter memories for those attending.

That included bitterly cold winds and a well-timed snowfall which coincided with the drop of the puck for the Alumni and Friends game and continued into the evening for the all-stars contest.

But that’s exactly what it was all about for organizers who wanted to return the game to a simpler time.

“It’s about the community and the junior hockey players coming together and having a great experience, I mean what’s more Canadian than a beautiful, snowy day and outdoor hockey,” said Vees owner Graham Fraser who is also the chairman of the BCHL board of governors.

“I love to see the smiles out there (on the ice) even the alumni and the old guys, they’re 12 years old again. Every time you get on an outdoor rink you feel like a kid.”

For the junior players it was a break from the regular season, suiting up this particular day with guys a week earlier they were trying to body check through the boards.

Penticton Vee Bradly Nadeau playing for Team Hull looks for a teammate.
Penticton Vee Bradly Nadeau playing for Team Hull looks for a teammate.
Image Credit: Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative

There was also a retro component to the event with players and officials sporting old-school jerseys.

Another nostalgic aspect of playing on outdoor ice was trying to follow the bouncing puck, having the disc disappear into a snowbank and trying to stick handle in the deepening snow.

And while there was an on-site motorized zamboni, game officials wound up using shovels in a well-choreographed skate to manually remove the snow.

The only thing missing was somebody’s dad with the garden hose to flood the surface.

Maybe next year.

“Coming into the outdoors is braving all the elements, but it’s all about the kids having a good time and I know they are. I think it’s going to be an annual event,” league CEO Chris Hebb said.

The weekend kicked off with another first on Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre, the BCHL Top Prospects game.

On Saturday, the action began just after noon when members of the all-star teams took part in the skills competition.

The Nadeau brothers, Josh and Bradly, represented the Vees at the all stars and both won their respective skills events.

Josh took the accuracy shooting title knocking off four targets in just under 12 seconds while his brother had the hardest shot with a 92-mile-per-hour cannon.

Following that, some hockey greats of the past took to the ice for the Alumni and Friends game featuring the likes of former NHLers Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Morrison, Kyle Turris, Geoff Courtnall, Garry Valk and others.

Bradly Nadeau (left) with teammate Jaiden Moriello.
Bradly Nadeau (left) with teammate Jaiden Moriello.
Image Credit: Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative

Bradly Nadeau (left) with teammate Jaiden Moriello watch the game through the snow.

Due to the smaller ice surface that game, and the all stars round series were a three-on-three-player format which was a hit with the fans who braved the elements to fill the stands.

In the end it was the Lower Mainland’s Team Turris prevailing in the all-star championship game defeating Team Courtnall of Vancouver Island.

The Nadeaus played on the Interior Team Hull squad which lost its first two games.

Joining the Nadeau brothers on Team East in the Top Prospect game was teammate Aydar Suniev. He and Josh each had one point and Bradly had two points in their 6-2 win. Penticton hockey great Duncan Keith was the team’s coach.

The Vees will return to regular season action in Vernon Wednesday. Their next home game is Feb. 3 versus Surrey Eagles.

— This story was originally published by the Penticton Herald.

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