Photo by Steven Christy.
It’s called a Young Stars Tournament by some, and a Rookie Tournament by others, but in the likelihood that you find this post at Tend The Farm, you’ll understand that the hockey tournament taking place in Penticton, British Columbia, is neither or any of these things.
It’s true, some of the players are young, but some are older. It’s true that some are rookies, but some are not. None of them fall into the category of “stars” just yet, but have the “potential” and “upside” (by them, I clearly mean only a few). So perhaps the only real honesty of the games beginning tonight between prospect players from five different NHL teams (Edmonton, Calgary, San Jose, Winnipeg, Vancouver), is that you can go ahead and label it a tournament.
The sorta annual Penticton Young Stars Tournament has become a pre-season warm-up for hockey fans eager to see their teams hit the ice, some, for the first time in a loooooong time. From September 5th to September 9th, the three teams entered in this years tourney will square off against three opponents a piece with the one claiming the most wins awarded the red badge of peerage as the tallest drink of water in the land…on a prospect team.
It’s an enjoyable couple of days, and I think that Barons fans will find many things to eagerly be on the lookout for. So let’s begin.
Official lines, pairs, starting goaltender for tonight’s game against the Flames:
Marco Roy – Andrew Miller – Kale Kessy
Austin Fyten – Jujhar Khaira – Greg Chase
Jackson Houck – Travis Ewanyk – Cam Abney
Brandon Baddock – Chase Schaber – Ty Bilcke
Darnell Nurse – Oscar Klefbom
Martin Gernat – David Musil
Brandon Davidson – Joey Leach
Martin Marincin – Ben Betker
The obvious thing to point out is the stoutness on defense in a so-called young stars tournament. Two players, in Davidson and Marinicin, had a whirl-wind season a year ago as pros for totally different reasons. Davidson, sharing time between ECHL Stockton and AHL Barons before a cancer diagnosis, ran his season downhill quickly after he returned. With a full head of steam, he played an integral part in the Barons postseason run. In contract, Marincin played a half season with Badger Justin Schultz before leading the Barons as a top four defender. Both of those have a world of attention thrown their way.
Then there’s the Nurse-Klefbom pairing which is going to be entertaining to watch. Both playing their first seasons as official Oilers organization pro prospects, the world is their oyster.
Fans of Barons hockey will recognize young Joey Leach, a former Flames prospect, who signed an AHL deal in OKC this season. He’s an under dog worth rooting for, and certainly looks to make progress in a full season of pro play.
On the offensive side, Andrew Miller will likely lace ’em up in OKC to start the season, and the recent Yale grad gets first line center treatment, and that instantly has me excited. Playing along recent draftees in Roy and Kessy, the four-year-college-guy can really assist those on his left and right.
Cameron Abney, nestled on the left side of the second line, is probably the odd ball of the group. He played in the Young Stars tournament in 2010-11, and still feels out of place with two years of full pro experience. Yet the Oilers want to give him the old college try as they seek to find some gratification in Sir Cam’s game.
Another Barons signee, Austin Fyten, plays the instigation role on the right wing of the fourth line with fellow agitators, Khaira and Chase. That’s a bruising forward line, and for that, I salute the choice to run them together.
Tyler Bunz gets the first start in net, and for all practical purposes is the only actual prospect playing goaltender in this tournament. Likely starting the season in Bakersfield, Bunz has hit the portion of his career where betterment is NOW, and his season starts tonight alongside the other young stars.
Coached by Todd Nelson, this is one of the most exciting teams to play in Penticton. Maybe it’s because I’m hockey deprived or continually bothered by grainy KHL feeds, but this is a solid lineup of prospects.
If you’re a Barons fan, make every effort to watch the game. They will be “televised” online via streams from the Oilers, Nucks, Sharks, Jets, and Flames. Pick your favorite site, stream, and enjoy. And although Penticton sounds like an incurable ailment, it’s really quite lovely.