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Canucks bring back Young Stars Classic for 2020

Brock Boeser was one of the rookie prospects who stood out for the Canucks at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton’s South Okanagan Events Centre in September 2017.
Brock Boeser was one of the rookie prospects who stood out for the Canucks at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton’s South Okanagan Events Centre in September 2017.

Fans of NHL prospects hockey should consider digging out their suitcases: the Vancouver Canucks are heading back to Penticton.

The NHL club announced Tuesday the revival of the Young Stars Classic, the popular pre-season prospects tournament it hosted in the Okanagan Valley city from 2010 to 2018.

This year’s event runs Sept. 11-15 and will also showcase the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. All games will be at the South Okanagan Events Centre, home of the Penticton Vees and the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame.

When the tournament was cancelled last year, the Canucks said they had difficulty securing opponents; the Flames and Oilers had organized their own series of games in Alberta, and the Winnipeg Jets decided to travel to Belleville, Ont., for a tournament with the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens.

The Canucks didn’t host any prospect games last fall, and instead opted for an extended training camp for their younger players.

GM Jim Benning said then it was about the team trying something different. They weren’t sure of the value of the games, especially since the Canucks’ squad wasn’t likely to feature many of their own top-end prospects. Benning expected those prospects would already be in action in Europe or back in the NCAA.

The Canucks also wondered if playing high-paced games in mid-September might add unneeded physical stress on their younger players.

But, in confirming the news that the tournament is back, it would appear those concerns are no longer an issue.

“The Young Stars tournament provides an opportunity to evaluate top NHL prospects in competitive, high-calibre games,” Benning said in Tuesday’s news release.

Fans will be delighted by the return of the Young Stars. Each game featured large crowds, especially the contests involving the Canucks. And event organizers estimated the financial impact of hosting the games was worth around $2 million to the local economy.

“Today’s announcement that the Young Stars Classic is returning home to Penticton is great news for the city, the South Okanagan Events Centre and the region as a whole,” Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki said in a news release.

“Hockey has a long and established history in Penticton, and this tournament, marking the ninth time it will have been held in our community, continues our tradition of being a popular and welcoming community to host great hockey events. On behalf of city council and all our residents, I’d like to welcome the players, coaches, families and visitors to Penticton.”

Details about ticket sales will be announced at a later date.

Young Stars Classic schedule

(All games at South Okanagan Events Centre)

Game 1: Sept. 11, Vancouver vs. Winnipeg, 7 p.m.

Game 2: Sept. 12, Calgary vs. Winnipeg, 4 p.m.

Game 3: Sept. 12, Vancouver vs. Edmonton, 7:30 p.m.

Game 4: Sept. 13, Edmonton vs. Calgary, 4 p.m.

Game 5: Sept. 15, Edmonton vs. Winnipeg, 4 p.m.

Game 6: Sept. 15, Vancouver vs. Calgary, 7:30 p.m.

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