Junior hockey: Vees wheel and deal, land two new players
The Penticton Vees acquired two new players on Thursday, but how they landed them is a story unto itself, as the moves involved four other teams.
Heading to Penticton are defenceman Evan McIntyre of the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and forward Ty Pochipinski from the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals.
Acquiring McIntyre, 18, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was a simple trade, with the Vees giving up “future considerations.”
McIntyre, at 5-foot-10 and 167-pounds and hailing from Oakville, Ont., had 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points with Cedar Rapids (14-12-2-2) this season.
McIntyre spent two years at St. Andrews College in Aurora, Ont., where he was teammates with Vees alumni Ryan O’Connell during the 2016-17 season.
“Evan is an elite skater with strong vision and play making ability,” Vees coach, general manager and president Fred Harbinson said in a press release. “He has a strong track record of producing points over his career.”
McIntyre, who has an NCAA scholarship to Merrimack College, will make his Vees debut Friday when the Powell River Kings visit the South Okanagan Events Centre.
While that was a straightforward trade, a lot of moving parts were in play in acquiring Pochipinski. But first, his stats.
From Colorado Springs, Colo., Pochipinski, at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, had 21 goals and 17 assists for 38 points in 58 games with the Capitals last season. In four games with Colorado College this season, he played in four games, registering one goal.
“Ty is a strong two-way centre who will be a great fit into our locker room and will bolster the depth of our lineup,” said Harbinson, “which will be essential for a long playoff run.”
To land Pochipinski, Penticton traded 20-year-old defenceman Kenny Johnson to the Victoria Grizzlies for forward Lach Hadley and defenceman Jarrin Sutton.
Sutton was then traded to the Grande Prairie Storm of the AJHL in exchange for Cruz Cole.
Hadley and Cole were then shipped to Cowichan Valley for Pochipinski.
Johnson played 134 games with the Vees during the past two-and-a-half seasons, registering 5 goals and 23 assists for 28 points plus 178 penalty minutes. This season, the 6-foot-4 and 223-pound defenceman from Ann Arbor, Mich., had 2 goals and 6 assists for 8 points, along with 28 penalty minutes.
“With the loss of two forwards for the remainder of the season, which would have left us with just 11 forwards when completely healthy, we had no choice but to move a defenceman,” Harbinson said.
“The fact that Kenny is a 20-year-old created a situation where he was the odd man out. This was by far the most difficult trade in my 12 years in Penticton, but it was a hockey trade that needed to be made. Kenny, fortunately, will land in a great spot in Victoria as he finishes his junior career.”
Notably, Pochipinski’s father, Trevor, was a member of the 1985-86 national championship Penticton Knights. Trevor had 30 points in 42 games that season.
Ty is expected to be in the Vees’ lineup for Friday’s game against Powell River.