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Looking Back: Adam Eisele

In our annual “Looking Back” series, we will chat with each 20-year-old player about their career in junior hockey, their time with the Vees and what is next following a Fred Page Cup championship.

The winning tradition in the Eisele family was upheld in 2022.

Following in his brother Seth’s footsteps, who won the Fred Page Cup with the Wenatchee Wild in 2018, Adam made quite a mark on Penticton and the Vees in his short time with the team en route to his name being etched in the same trophy his brothers was four years prior.

“I got a call from Wenatchee and then Fred (Harbinson) and I asked my brother which team I should go to and he said Penticton, not to throw my brother under the bus or anything,” joked Eisele, “Taking a few days after winning a championship to think about how he won the same trophy as me is something really special.”

The 20-year-old forward has always been a skilled offensive player, posting big numbers in each stop during his junior career that began even farther north than Canada, joining the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) in Alaska. “I think it was a great step for me,” commented Eisele, ” I had the choice of going to Waterloo (in the United States Hockey League) and being a 3rd or 4th line-kinda guy or going to Fairbanks and playing a bigger role and I thought that was huge for me. I had a really good coach in Trevor Stewart and it’s a great league to move players on to other leagues and even Division I.”

Following a season in which he amassed 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points in his 51 games with Fairbanks, the Lake Elmo, Minnesota native decided to move to Youngstown, Pennsylvania and join the Phantoms of the USHL. Eisele would only skate in 8 games, however, suffering an injury that kept him out for nearly a calendar year, a challenge that felt like a mountain to overcome.

“It was definitely hard physically but mentally, I thought I might never play again,” said Eisele, “Having to sit out a year while everyone else is training, I knew I had to come back stronger and be able to compete with everyone. It was pretty hard mentally but knowing I was going to a place like Penticton helped me get back into it.”

And that’s where the Vees fit into Eisele’s junior hockey story.

The 6’1″, 185-pound centre joined the team following the holiday break, which seemed like that was never going to happen, either. Eisele flew from Minneapolis to Seattle en route to Penticton and received a positive COVID-19 test, where he would stay in the Pacific Northwest for four days.

Finally, on January 12th, Adam made his return to the ice for the first time in 364 days. Eisele got a quick morning skate in before the Vees took on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on home ice. “I got there and got a morning skate in,” said Eisele, “I knew I was going in that night so it was pretty crazy but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I would’ve been thinking about it too much and would’ve done something I wasn’t supposed to so I loved that I just got into a game right away, got to my game and show the coaches what I have to offer.”

What Eisele offered was exactly what the Vees needed. Following a pair of losses in Eisele’s debut and the following contest against the Prince George Spruce Kings, the Vees rattled off 11 consecutive victories. Eisele finished the season with 13 goals and 13 assists to collect 26 points in 27 games in the regular season and felt comfortable as soon as he stepped in the dressing room.

“I felt comfortable right away with the guys,” commented Eisele, “Play wise, I’d say it was about two or three weeks before I started to figure it all out. I’d honestly say I felt rustier, or not really myself, in about half of my regular season games but I was doing well and the team was as well so that made things better.”

He continued his strong play into the playoffs, where he collected 5 goals and 14 assists for 19 points in 17 postseason games and ultimately concluding with 16 consecutive playoff wins and hoisting a Fred Page Cup in Nanaimo on May 18th. So many things come to mind about a championship team and winning a league title but the one that is top of mind for Eisele is the comradery he has with his fellow teammates.

“What comes to mind is all of the friendships that we had and how close that team really was,” said Eisele, “I knew my team in Fairbanks was super close but I don’t think I cried saying goodbye to those guys the way I did this team when I left for home. I was really emotional saying goodbye to everyone because we went through something so special and going through that with your best buddies and guys you know you are brothers for life with.”

Eisele will continue his hockey career by playing somewhere that is much closer to home than where he has played previously, joining the University of Minnesota State-Mankato and playing with the Mavericks. Only an hour and a half away from his home in Elmo Lake, Eisele is looking forward to playing in his own backyard, “They’ve been really good and I know their coaching staff is elite and having just played with an elite coaching staff in Penticton, it is going from a winning culture to another winning culture.”

There will be one carry over from the championship team in Penticton to his new team in Mankato: Luc Wilson. Eisele will be joined by his teammate in early June and will head to school with him in the middle of the month to prepare for their first year of college hockey.

“We’ll be roommates so that might be a little bit of trouble,” quipped Eisele, “but it’ll be fun. We were texting before I even came to Penticton about it and we were just pumped we are going together. Our friendship really grew while we were in Penticton together and I really look forward to going to Mankato with someone like that.”