PHOTO: Jack Murray
One of two Vees to be entering their third season in the Peach City is forward Lukas Sillinger, having played a total of 90 BCHL games all in Penticton. During the 2018/19 campaign, the 5’10”, 172-pound left handed shot amassed 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points in 34 games played with a season that was hampered a bit due to injuries, “Both my years in Penticton have been really good years and a couple of the best years of my life” said Sillinger.
“My first season playing with my brother (Owen) was a great experience and in my second year, I battled some injuries at times and it wasn’t the year our team was looking for but we can’t dwell on the past and move forward to bring back a National Championship to the City of Penticton.”
Being a third year member of the Vees, Sillinger knows the expectations of the organization, “Fred and his staff do a great job in getting the guys ready and I know everyone will be dialled in at the start of camp,” Silinger explained, “Penticton is the best spot to play junior hockey so I’m sure everyone is really excited to come in there and, coming into my third season, I’m going to do my best to help out the guys as much as I can.”
During the 2018/19 season, the Regina, Saskatchewan native was able to secure his future in hockey by committing to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, a tough decision but one that Sillinger felt was the right one, “It was a tough decision between Nebraska-Omaha and Bemidji State and having the chance to play with Owen,” said Sillinger, “But I took my visit down to Omaha last season and they treated me with so much respect and I loved the program there and I’m really looking forward to heading there.”
The Sillinger name is one that is notorious in hockey circles with father Mike having played through a very successful 1,049 game NHL career. Older brother Owen’s name is very familiar with fans in Penticton after playing three seasons with the Vees, including a Fred Page Cup championship in 2017 and captaining the team during the 2017/18 season. Younger brother Cole has just begun his junior hockey career and signed on with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League.
In a family full of hockey, there weren’t many occasions that games wouldn’t break out, “Hockey has always been a big thing in our family,” Sillinger mentioned, “From playing mini-sticks in the basement to street hockey to fooling around in the garage , hockey is basically our lives. Passed down from my father, my brothers and I have learnt a lot from him and have been very supportive of us and my mom has been there every step of the way for us and we couldn’t be more thankful for them too.”
Having the chance to play with his older brother during the 2017/18 season is something Lukas relished in, “It was a pretty special year for us,” Sillinger recalled, “Our whole family was done there for the season and we don’t get many chances to play together being three years apart but it was an amazing year to get to spend some time with him.”
With all of the Sillinger kids away from home, whether it be playing junior or collegiate hockey, the summers where everyone can get together mean that much more, “As you get older, you learn to appreciate each other more when you come back in the summer,” Sillinger said, “We spend as much time together as we can in the summer and my family loves that, it will be the first year that my parents won’t have any boys at the house so they will be travelling a lot and coming to a lot of our games.”
There are a lot of things that Sillinger is looking forward to when coming back to Penticton for his third season, “The facilities that we get to use and the rink we get to play in and how well we get treated by the staff and our trainers and everyone is so supportive of us” Sillinger explained.
When it comes to a leadership role, Sillinger is looking forward to helping out some of his younger teammates, “As you get older, you want to grow into a bigger leadership role and help with the younger guys who might not be as familiar with playing junior hockey,” said Sillinger, “I remember when I was younger, I was a bit nervous coming to the team and the older guys were great to me and always helped me out so I want to help do the same thing.”
Sillinger 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.