Three seasons of Junior ‘A’ hockey can amount to plenty of memories, life long connections and lasting relationships that will go well beyond the years of playing. David Silye has experienced just about everything that Junior ‘A’ and the BC Hockey League has had to offer with the exception of one missing piece: a championship.
That is at the forefront of the mind of the 5’11”, 183-pound forward, coming off of his best season statistically in his 160-game BCHL campaign. Silye notched a career-best 21 goals and 39 assists for 60 points in 49 games played last season in Penticton, which was his first with the Vees after an offseason trade saw him come to the South Okanagan from the Nanaimo Clippers. With three years of experience under his belt, Silye is excited to be coming back to Penticton for his final season of junior hockey.
“I’ve had the chance to go through the whole process of junior hockey from being a rookie to a second year guy and now one of the older guys,” said Silye, “Now I’m at that final stage and I think I’ve gotten all I can get out of junior hockey and I’m just missing that one piece which is a championship so I’m looking forward to getting back in my 20-year-old season and fighting for a Fred Page Cup.”
Although the 2018/19 season didn’t end the way the Vees were hoping for, the Arnprior, Ontario native says there’s plenty to be proud of from a group that fought through plenty of challenges, “If you look back on it, we fought a lot of adversity throughout the course of the season,” Silye commented, “You could probably count on one hand the amount of times we played with a full, healthy lineup and we were a tight group so I’m definitely proud of how we went through the regular season and grinded.”
Silye is one of nine players projected to return to the Vees lineup this season and a first-round defeat at the hands of the Cowichan Valley Capitals in the playoffs is still fresh in the mind of that returning core, who enter this season with a bit of a chip on their shoulder to avenge the early exit from a year ago.
“For me personally, avenging that loss from last year and giving the fans something they deserve and missed out on is the goal,” said Silye, “Coach Harbinson has been working hard to build a championship-calibre team and won’t settle for anything less and that’s the mentality to take heading into the season.”
The offseason has been a busy one for Harbinson and his staff, including adding a pair of NHL draft picks to the roster in the way of Jay O’Brien and Cade Webber which has a player like Silye ready to hit the ice with the group in late August, “It’s definitely exciting to see some big names coming in and we’re looking really good on paper right now so we’ll be looking to translate that into the locker room and gel as a group.”
Heading into his fourth season of BCHL hockey, leadership is something that the right-handed shooting forward knows will be paramount in his final season, “Regardless if I get a letter or not, I’m a 20-year-old and automatically being that age means taking on a leadership role and helping some of the young guys out and pass along what I have learnt from the past three seasons.”
Silye has had the chance to live in and experience a variety of different cities and communities but after playing in his first season in Penticton, one thing stood out that was different from the rest, “The community support is incredible,” mentioned Silye, “The fans are always cheering for us, whether through a win or a loss, and are involved with every community event we are out at and show their support everywhere we go.”
Training through the offseason is a key step through development and having the experience that a player like Silye does, each season away from the rink becomes more and more valuable. But for David, getting his body into optimal shape to compete at a high level for a possible nine month season is what comes first.
“After my first year, I was all about getting on the ice as quickly as possible and getting as much ice as I could because I enjoyed playing so much,” said Silye, “But now I’ve realized, as I’ve gotten older, the season is so grueling and you’ve got to take care of your body and increase things like mobility and flexibility and getting your body back to being 110% heading into camp.”
Silye and the rest of the Vees are set to hit the ice in late August ahead of the 2019/20 season with the first game of the exhibition schedule taking place on Wednesday, August 21st in West Kelowna against the Warriors. Season tickets are on sale now and are available by contacting Laura Carleton at (250) 493-8337 ext. 4.