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Next Generation: Penticton Vees

Presented by Chevrolet.

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2023-24 season, we will go team-by-team to profile new players entering the league for the upcoming season, including scouting reports from the coaches.

This year, we will go in reverse order of how the teams finished last season, starting with the two clubs that missed the playoffs and ending with the two league finalists. Next up is the Penticton Vees.


The Penticton Vees won their second-straight Fred page Cup championship last year, going 16-1 in the postseason in consecutive years. They finished first overall in the regular-season standings with a 50-3-0-1 record, then swept the Trail Smoke Eaters in the first round of the playoffs, beat the Wenatchee Wild in four in round two, then topped the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in five before sweeping the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in the championship round.

With just two players returning from last year’s team, the Vees have been extremely busy this offseason recruiting a new lineup to compete for a league title. Head coach, general manager and team president Fred Harbinson, a four-time winner of the BCHL’s Coach of the Year Award, walks us through their long list of new players.

New recruits

Larry Keenan (2005, D)

  • Hometown: Midhurst, Ont.
  • Previous team: Culver Military Academy (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: University of Massachusetts
  • NHL Draft: Detroit Red Wings (2023 – Round 4)

Keenan spent the past two years at Culver Academy in Indiana. In 2022-23, he was the team’s top point producer from the back end with 37 in 49 games on 11 goals and 26 assists. His grandfather, also named Larry, played over 200 games in the NHL in the1960s and his father Cory also played professionally. He was selected by the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft in June.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“He’s another monstrous defenceman at 6-foot-4. Culver is a very disciplined school, so you can only imagine the kind of high-character people that come out of there. He has a very long stick, which he uses effectively to defend. He can control games by getting involved in the play. He’s going to be a very exciting defenceman for our fans to watch.”

James Fisher (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Burlington, Mass.
  • Previous team: Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
  • College commitment: Northeastern University
  • NHL Draft: Columbus Blue Jackets (2022 – Round 7)

Fisher had three goals and seven assists last year in 42 games with Youngstown who went on to went the USHL championship.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“James had a lower body injury that limited his offensive ability last year. The interesting thing with him is that you’re getting a player with a bit of a chip on his shoulder because he had limited opportunities with the injury. I think we’re going to get a big body, he’s 6-foot-2, and a good two-way forward.”

Ryan MacPherson (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Windsor, Ont.
  • Previous team: Leamington Flyers (GOJHL)
  • College commitment: University of New Hampshire
  • NHL Draft: Philadelphia Flyers (2023 – Round 6)

Playing alongside his twin brother Connor with Leamington, Ryan MacPherson compiled 113 points in 97 regular-season games over the past two seasons. He was also a big-time threat in the postseason, putting up an outstanding 38 points in 24 playoff games last year to help lead his team to a championship. He was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers at the NHL Draft in June.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Ryan is a centreman and, playing alongside his brother, they seem to feed off each other as you often see from brother combinations. He’s a very good playmaker, but he also plays with a lot of grit.”

Connor MacPherson (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Windsor, Ont.
  • Previous team: Leamington Flyers (GOJHL)
  • College commitment: University of New Hampshire

MacPherson was Leamington’s leading scorer and top-10 in the GOJHL with 63 points in 43 games. Over his two years in the league, he put up 120 points in 91 regular-season games. MacPherson has also proven to be a clutch playoff performer, as shown by his 22 points in 16 playoff games in 2021-22 and his 34 points in 22 postseason contests last year, which helped lead his team to the league championship and earned himself playoff MVP. He was invited to Philadelphia Flyers development camp this summer.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“He was an assistant captain with his team in Leamington, which shows the kind of character he has. He plays right wing and has a really quick release.”

Francesco Del’Ellce (2005, D)

  • Hometown: King City, Ont.
  • Previous team: St. Andrew’s College (CAHS)
  • College commitment: University of Massachusetts

Dell’Elce was the Canadian High School league’s highest scoring defenceman with 62 points in 51 games and his 42 assists on the year were the fifth most overall in the league. He attended Montreal Canadiens development camp this summer.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Francesco comes from St. Andrew’s, which has been a pipeline for us and a lot of teams in our league. They’ve done a great job there. He’s a really smooth-skating, skilled defenceman. You can see that from his point totals last year. He makes the opposition miss with his shiftiness and is very slick with the puck.”

Anselmo Rego (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Brampton, Ont.
  • Previous team: St. Andrew’s College (CAHS)

Rego was St. Andrew’s leading scorer and fourth overall in the CAHS with 77 points in 53 games. His 41 goals were also the most on the team and also ranked fourth overall in the league.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Anselmo is a strong forward who loves to get to the net. He played lacrosse, so he has that mentality where it’s hard to move him around the net. He’s a player that will be counted on to create offence.”

Will Ingemann (2005, G)

  • Hometown: Plymouth, Minn.
  • Previous team: Wayzata High School (USHS-MN)
  • College commitment: University of St. Thomas

Ingemann had great numbers with Wayzata last year, posting a sparkling .941 save percentage, 1.38 goals-against average and six shutouts in 27 games.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Will had an outstanding year with Wayzata High School. That’s the same school that we got Mario Lucia back in the day. He played for St. Cloud of the North American League as an affiliate at the end of the year and did extremely well, so he has a few junior games under his belt. He should be a strong goaltender for us to continue the line of strong goalies we’ve had in the past.”

Conyr Hellyer (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Okotoks, Alta.
  • Previous team: Okotoks Oilers (AJHL)
  • College commitment: Arizona State University

Hellyer played the last two years in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with his hometown team in Okotoks. Last season, he led the Oilers with 30 goals, 31 assists and 61 points in 48 games. He was invited to play for Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in December and was named an AJHL All-Star at year’s end.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Connor is a player that brings junior experience to our program. He’s a lefthanded centreman who was able to score a lot of goals in the Alberta League. Prior to that, he was the Alberta U18 MVP in 2020. That tells you about the talent he has.”

Billy Renfrew (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Previous team: Fairbanks Ice Dogs (NAHL)
  • College commitment: Northern Michigan University

Playing for his hometown team in Fairbanks of the North American Hockey League, Renfrew was their top scorer in his third year with the team, compiling 55 points in 48 games. His 23 goals were also most on the Ice Dogs.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Since we only have two returning players, we wanted to find guys with some junior experience. Billy played over 130 games in the North American League, which is a very heavy and strong league. He twice has scored over 20 goals in the NAHL. As a lefthanded centreman, he’ll be an experienced player that we will count on.”

Leon Matthiasson (2003, D)

  • Home country: Sweden
  • Previous team: Växjö Lakers HC (J20 Nationell)

Playing in Sweden’s top junior league, Matthiasson was his team’s second-highest scoring blueliner with 25 points in 39 games.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Leon brings some junior experience to our back end from his time in Sweden. He’s a 20-year-old who is a little over six feet tall. He’s always had a track record of creating offence and producing. He’s got some NCAA offers right now and has recently been on some visits. He should bring stability to our back end.”

Parker Murray (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Manhattan Beach, Calif.
  • Previous team: Wenatchee Wild (BCHL)

Murray had a strong year offensively last year and put up the third most goals on his team during the regular season with 23. He really made is mark in the playoffs when he scored 13 goals in 10 games, including a stretch where he had back-to-back four goal games and a seven-game goal-scoring streak.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Our fans already know Parker. He’s a 20-year-old who’s been in the league the last couple years. He’s a natural goal scorer. He’s got a very big body as a 6-foot-4 left winger. He’s an extreme threat on the power play.”

Simon Meier (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Bulach, Switzerland
  • Previous team: Kloten U20 (U20-Elit)
  • College commitment: Northern Michigan University

Meier grew up in the Kloten program in his home country of Switzerland. He played for the U20 team last year and was their second-leading scorer with 37 points in 30 games, including a team-best 27 assists. He also represented his country internationally, including most recently at the Hlinka Gretzky U18 tournament In August.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“He’s a very dynamic forward with a high compete level for an undersized player. He sees the ice extremely well and will be a fan favourite.”

Andrew Ness (2004, G)

  • Hometown: Winnipeg, Man.
  • Previous team: Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL)
  • College commitment: Bemidji State University

Ness posted a .914 save percentage in 21 games with Fort McMurray of the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season. He also played for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge where he had a 1.44 goals-against average, a .917 save rate and one shutout in three games.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Andrew is a 6-foot-2 goaltender who played well in the Alberta League last year. Before that, he also had a great U18 career for the Winnipeg Wild. Him and Will [Ingemann] should be a great tandem together.”

Attila Lippai (2004, F)

  • Hometown: St. Paul, Minn.
  • Previous team: Cretin-Durham Hall (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: University of St. Thomas

A dual American-Hungarian citizen, Lippai had a huge year for his high-school team, piling up 45 points in 28 games. He also played in 10 North American Hockey League games with the Bismarck Bobcats as an affiliate and had four goals and two assists.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“He’s a very sturdy and speedy left winger that has a very high compete level. Watching him, he plays the same style as Brad Marchand. He’s always going to the dirty areas and likes to compete.”

Nolan Stevenson (2005, D)

  • Hometown: Shaunavon, Sask.
  • Previous team: Regina Pat Canadians U18 (SMAAAHL)
  • College commitment: University of Nebraska-Omaha

Stevenson was the captain of his team in Regina last year as well as their leading scorer among defencemen with 40 points in 43 games. In addition, he put up 11 points in 12 postseason contests.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Nolan’s coach said he was one of, if not the best captain Regina had seen, which is a strong sentiment. He’s 6-foot-2 with an extremely heavy shot. He’ll be a player that will create from our blueline with his shot.”

Max Heise (2006, F)

  • Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
  • Previous team: Calgary Flames AAA (AEHL U18)
  • College commitment: Michigan State University

Heise was nearly a point-per-game player with the Flames U18 program last year, piling up 32 points in 34 games on 14 goals and 18 assists. In the postseason, he leveled up with 10 goals and 16 points in 11 contests en route to a league championship.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Max was a big reason why his team took off come playoff time and created a couple upsets. He’s a 6-foot-2 righthanded centreman. He’s a guy that I’m sure NHL scouts will be watching for the 2024 draft.”

Jack Bakker (2007, F)

  • Hometown: White Rock, B.C.
  • Previous team: Delta Hockey Academy Prep (CSSHL U18)

Bakker was nearly a point-per-game player last year with Delta Academy, totaling 22 points in 24 games. His 15 goals on the year were second most on his team. He also got in one game with the Vees last season as an affiliate.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Jack was injured at the end of the season, so he got the chance to be around our program in the playoffs and skated with us during the finals. He’s a very skilled forward that’s getting a lot of college interest. A big thing for Jack is that he put on 13 pounds of muscle over the summer. As a 16-year-old, he’ll be one of the more talented players at that age in the BCHL.”

Matthew Biotti (2004, D)

  • Hometown: Cambridge, Mass.
  • Previous team: Belmont Hill School (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: Harvard University

Biotti was an offensive producer from the back end for his high-school team last year, finishing the season with 24 points in 25 games.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Matthew is a big, 6-foot-4 defenceman who skates extremely well for a guy that tall. He makes a strong first pass. He has an outstanding pedigree. His dad and uncle both played at Harvard. His sister currently plays there. They’re all defencemen. He’s also got a younger sister that’s getting offers for college scholarships as well. He’s a really good kid and a good leader. I think he’s going to be a force on the back end.”

Daniel Buchbinder (2004, D)

  • Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Previous team: Northwood School (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: UMass-Lowell

Buchbinder played the past three seasons at Northwood and was captain of the team in 2022-23. He had six goals, 34 assists and 40 points in 70 games last year, all of which were tops among defencemen on his team.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Daniel is a great leader. He’s another big, strong defenceman at 6-foot-3. His biggest attributes are his strength and his hockey IQ.”

Brock Reinhart (2004, D)

  • Hometown: Elora, Ont.
  • Previous team: Elmira Sugar Kings (GOJHL)

In his second year playing Junior B in Ontario, Reinhart was Elmira’s highest-scoring defenceman with 37 points in 49 games.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“He’s a 6-foot-3 defenceman who will add some experience from his time spent in the GOJHL. He’s got a couple scholarship offers that he’s deciding on at the present time. He’ll bring physicality and an edge to his game.”

Austin Cameron (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Kelowna, B.C.
  • Previous team: Summerland Steam (KIJHL)

In his second year playing Junior B last season, Cameron played in 34 regular-season games for Summerland and put up eight goals, 15 assists and 23 points. He suited up for four BCHL games with Penticton as an affiliate and scored his first goal in the league on Jan. 1 against the Vernon Vipers.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Austin is a left winger who is just under six feet tall. He’s a local boy, which is always nice. He’ll add some great depth to our program.”

Carson Lesiuk (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Duncan, B.C.
  • Previous team: Pacific Coast Academy Prep (CSSHL U18)

Lesiuk finished two points back of the team lead in scoring last year with 43 points in 32 games after scoring 18 goals and adding 25 helpers.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Carson is a good-sized lefthanded centreman at a little over six feet tall and 190 pounds. He’ll bring some depth to our centre position.”

Nate McIsaac (2004, D)

  • Hometown: Kelowna, B.C.
  • Previous team: Summerland Steam (KIJHL)

McIsaac played the past two years with Summerland of the KIJHL. In 2022-23, he put up nine points in 44 games.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Nate is a local boy and even played his junior hockey locally in Summerland. Keeping with the theme of size on our back end, he’s 6-foot-3 and very hardworking and honest. He’ll bring depth to our defence corps.”

Sharky Nowek (2006, G)

  • Hometown: Penticton, B.C.
  • Previous team: Okanagan Hockey Academy Prep (CSSHL U18)

Nowek had a 2.33 goals-against average and a 4-2-0 record for OHA last year in six appearances.

Harbinson’s scouting report:

“Sharky is a local boy. He’s injured right now, but will be our third goaltender. He’ll give us some nice depth at that position.”


Photo credits: Dan Hickling/USHL (Fisher), Dan Hickling (Del’Ellce, Rego, Ingemann, Biotti, Buchbinder), Garrett James Photography (Murray), CSSHL (Bakker, Lesiuk, Nowek), Tami Quan (Cameron, McIsaac)