Former Penticton Vee Joey Benik enjoyed a strong Canucks Young Stars Classic as a prospect with the Edmonton Oilers in 2016. Western News file photo

Former Penticton Vee Joey Benik enjoyed a strong Canucks Young Stars Classic as a prospect with the Edmonton Oilers in 2016. Western News file photo

Penticton organizer caught off-guard on NHL Young Stars comment

Penticton event chair said he cannot confirm or deny anything, just that an event will be held in the city

A tweet stating the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars tournament may not happen this September has caused some consternation for at least one of the Penticton organizers.

Andrew Jakubeit, who is the event chair for the Penticton organizing committee for the tournament, said the tweet from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal caught him off-guard.

“It definitely did. Right now, I’m confident there will be an event this fall. What the shape, size or scope of teams is; I can’t confirm or deny yet.”

Related: Young Stars tourney scores with tourism

Jakubeit said the tournament does not have a multi-year contract keeping it in the city. Each year the Penticton committee works with their partner, the Vancouver Canucks, who then liaise with the NHL clubs. He said it is typical to not have a event firmed up at this time of the season and that the announcement usually comes in June or late spring. However, he said an announcement could be coming sooner.

“Certainly we fully intend on having an event in early September. The formal agreement usually comes through the Canucks and those details are still being finalized. So right now, I have nothing concrete to confirm or deny.”

Jakubeit also fought back on the insinuation that the calibre of talent isn’t there anymore. Connor McDavid, the NHL’s and Edmonton Oilers number one draft pick in 2015 is the most prominent player to have attended over the seven years the Young Stars has taken place in Penticton. However, the tournament has also featured Canucks top picks like Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen, Brock Boeser and former Penticton Veees player Troy Stecher. The Calgary Flames brought Sam Bennett and the Oilers also have suited up Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse previously.

“The calibre has been great. We were spoiled for seven years. Of course you aren’t going to have a phenomenal talent like Connor McDavid every time. But, it is unfortunate to say something like that because this is an opportunity for the teams to gauge the next superstars. There has been almost 80 players that came to the Young Stars that have become regulars in the NHL. It is a great venue to see them,” said Jakubeit.

Related: Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid welcomes attention

Hockey fans chimed in on the original tweet with their thoughts:

The inaugural year of the tournament also featured the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks who had then prospect Cam Fowler playing in Penticton — the Ducks did not return the following year and the Sharks bowed out after the 2011 tournament.

Besides the hockey played at the South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton benefits to the tune of approximately $1.5 million in economic impact from not only the tourists coming to watch the games and soak in the early September warm weather but the accommodation, food and extra curricular activities for the four NHL clubs and staff.

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