PHOTO: Jack Murray
The Vees will have a familiar face competing for the crease this season as Derek Krall returns for his second year in Penticton. Coming into the organization, Krall knew exactly what to expect, “Coming in, you hear about the Vees and what it takes to play in that organization,” Krall stated, “When you get there, you really get the sense of the community and brotherhood that is there and I believe it was the right spot for me. I’m so thankful I landed in Penticton.”
Prior to making his way to the South Okanagan, the Nanaimo, BC native stayed local through his minor hockey and Junior ‘B’ career, beginning with two seasons playing for the North Island Silvertips of the BC Major Midget League before heading to Shawnigan Lake of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League for his final year of midget hockey.
“I was lucky enough to get right into Major Midget and join the Silvertips when I was 15,” Krall said, “It was a great league and there was a lot of elite talent there and since then, I’ve been working really hard in pushing myself and have had great shooters against me and the development since then has skyrocketed and I’ve never really looked back on what I’ve wanted to do with my future.”
Krall broke into his Junior hockey career with his hometown Junior ‘B’ team in the Nanaimo Buccaneers as he posted a 2.76 GAA and a .921 SV% in 27 games played, which was good enough to earn him VIJHL Goaltender of the Year honours, something which Krall could not have anticipated, “We had an abundance of Junior ‘A’ guys who came back for their 20-year-old seasons,” Krall mentioned, “They really helped by adding a calming influence on and off the ice and it gave me confidence having those guys play in front of me.”
“I can’t thank the Bucs enough for what they did for me and my development,” continued Krall, “Being in my hometown and having all of my family and friends in the stands every night really helped me feel at home and prepare me for the next level.”
The 6’0″, 170-pound netminder played in three playoff games with the Powell River Kings as an affiliate player after the 2017/18 season and is an experience that helped with the transition to Junior ‘A’ and eventually the Vees, “I felt like, getting those playoff games, it really matured me to the point where I didn’t feel like it wasn’t too much of a leap, going into a full season of Junior ‘A'” said Krall, “Obviously, playing in the playoffs is something that you strive for and that experience really helped me throughout the course of last season.”
Goalie partners and their relationships are an intrical part of a team to have success and Krall was part of a strong duo in the crease in Penticton last year that included 20-year-old goaltender Jack LaFontaine. “Jack was awesome,” Krall recalled, “Coming into the season, I knew there was a great veteran guy coming in who had a lot of experience and been to NHL camps and everything so I was super excited to be able to work with him and just being at practice every day, observing his technique and work ethic towards every rep. It really helped push me to be my best in practice.”
With the strong relationship of his goaltending duo a season ago, Krall is hoping to keep that going into a new season with a new partner in Yaniv Perets, “I’ve only heard great things about Yaniv,” Krall said, “Being a 20-year-old this season, I’m looking to take on a leadership role and have a voice in the dressing room. I really want to make sure we are committed to playing Vees hockey and that we’re all on the same page with what we are trying to accomplish.”
There’s plenty of excitement for the Nanaimo, BC native to come back and play his second season with the Vees, “To be able to play for the Penticton Vees is something pretty special,” said Krall, ” There’s a lot to look forward to and I’m excited to see all the guys again and I made a lot of friends last year so I’m just looking forward to seeing them again. Meeting my new billets, I’ve got Darryl Moog this year and I’m pretty excited to have that opportunity to stay with that family and get settled in for a long season.”
Krall and the rest of the Vees are set to hit the ice in August 19th 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.