NHL's Young Stars Classic returns to Penticton after COVID hiatus | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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NHL's Young Stars Classic returns to Penticton after COVID hiatus

Fin, the Vancouver Canucks' mascot, is in Penticton today to promote the return of the Young Stars Classic hockey tournament in Penticton.

The NHL is sending some hatchlings back to the South Okanagan to play in the Young Stars Classic.

Participating teams will be the Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames.

The tournament was an annual event until it went on hiatus after 2018. It gives fans a chance to see tomorrow’s stars in Penticton before they make their NHL debut.

Connor McDavid played in the tournament for the Oilers in 2015, and Elias Pettersson was there in a Canucks jersey in 2018.

Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki, Fin the mascot, and Stan Smyl, vice-president hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks held a press conference to announce the return of the Young Stars Classic.
Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki, Fin the mascot, and Stan Smyl, vice-president hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks held a press conference to announce the return of the Young Stars Classic.

Former Canuck Stan Smyl, who’s now the team’s vice president of hockey operations, was at Poplar Grove in Penticton today, June 22, to announce the return of the tournament. 

He said organizers are hopeful that more than four teams can be recruited in future events, and pointed out how there were five teams at one point, which included San Jose and Anaheim. But the Seattle Kraken, which is the next closest team to the Okanagan, seems to be a "natural fit" to participate. 

And the event will live up to its name of showcasing young stars. 

"We don’t want to have too veteran-type of players, we want to keep it young so we know where our talent is at," Smyl said. 

READ MORE: Vancouver Canucks sign stars Pettersson, Hughes to multi-year contracts

Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki said Penticton is a great spot to host the tournament because many NHLers made names for themselves with the city's local Junior A hockey team, the Vees.

"The Penticton Vees are the envy of every other junior hockey team anywhere in Canada," Vassilaki said.

"They are the champion, they’ve always been champions, even world champions if we go back to the 1950s."

The mayor asked hockey fans to also spend time in Penticton outside of hockey season because it's the most beautiful place to be in the summertime.

"It even beats my home country, Greece. Greece doesn’t compete anywhere near Penticton. Some of my Greek friends won’t like that comment but that’s okay because it’s the truth."

FILE PHOTO - Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid drops to a knee following a faceoff against Canucks Cole Cassels during the second game of the Canucks Young Stars Classic in Penticton on Sept. 11, 2015.
FILE PHOTO - Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid drops to a knee following a faceoff against Canucks Cole Cassels during the second game of the Canucks Young Stars Classic in Penticton on Sept. 11, 2015.

All four teams will play each other once each in a round robin. The tournament will run from Sept. 16 to Sept. 19 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

It will be the ninth Young Stars Classics in Penticton. Events were planned for 2020 and 2021 but had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.

Tickets for the 2022 event are not on sale yet.

FILE PHOTO
FILE PHOTO
Image Credit: SUMBITTED/Vancouver Canucks

 – Story updated at 12:45 p.m. on June 22 to add comments from the press conference.


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