Defenceman Ethan Martini will join the Penticton Vees for the 2019-2020 season. Photo courtesy of Garrett James — BCHL

Penticton Vees add Trail defenceman to lineup; BCHL tops in player development

Penticton Vees picked up Greater Trail native Ethan Martini from the Powell River Kings

The Penticton Vees have acquired a player that brings size, experience, and grit to their roster.

Former Trail Smoke Eater defenceman Ethan Martini was picked up from the Powell River Kings in exchange for future considerations.

“Adding Ethan’s experience, size and physical mentality was something we couldn’t pass up on,” said Vees head coach, GM and president Fred Harbinson in a news release. “We all know the grind in which the Interior Division has become and I look forward to helping Ethan take the next step with his game.”

The 19-year-old Trail native spent the last three seasons in the BCHL amassing 143 games between two different teams. The six-foot-six, 209-pound defender played the majority of those games with the Smoke Eaters, registering a goal and 10 assists for 11 points in 114 games while amassing 211 penalty minutes in that span.

Martini split last season in the United States Hockey League and the BCHL, beginning his campaign with the Central Illinois Flying Aces where he played in 13 games, scoring a goal and adding a pair of assists for 3 points to go along with 71 penalty minutes before getting 29 games with the Kings, compiling four assists and 51 PIMs.

Incidentally, Martini and Smoke Eaters goalie Donovan Buskey were selected one after the other in the 2015 Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantam Draft. Buskey was the 53rd pick of the Spokane Chiefs and Martini the 54th pick of the Swift Current Broncos.

Buskey came to Trail at the trade deadline in January, and backstopped the Smoke Eaters to an incredible playoff run, losing in Game 7 to the Vernon Vipers in the Interior Division semifinal. His return to Trail has yet to be determined.

BCHL Notes: With a recent flurry of college commitments for next year, the BCHL has now reached 164 players committed from the 2018-19 season, eclipsing the previous high of 161 set in 2017-18.

Of these commitments, 150 are to NCAA Div. I schools, the others are for Div. III and Canadian University programs. With players still signing on with teams throughout the summer, the number of commitments will grow even higher.

The league has consistently seen an uptick in the number of college committed players from year-to-year and 2018-19 was no different:

2015-16: 149 players

2016-17 : 151 players

2017-18: 161 players

2018-19: 164 players (so far)

The BCHL has become the number-one source of NCAA Division I players in all of Canada. With 33 per cent of NHL players coming from college hockey, Junior A is increasingly becoming a legitimate route to professional hockey with recent top draft picks like Alex Newhook (Victoria Grizzlies), Tyson Jost (Penticton Vees), Dante Fabbro (Penticton Vees), Dennis Cholowski (Chilliwack Cheifs) and Cale Makar (Brooks Bandits-AJHL).

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