PHOTO: Jack Murray
With the 2019/20 season coming to a close, we will take a look at each of the six 20-year-olds on the Vees roster and look back on their junior hockey careers. Our final article takes a look at the Captain, David Silye.
The end of the 2018/19 season left a sour taste in the mouth of forward David Silye, as it did for each of the returning Vees in the following campaign. When it came to time for players to head back to their respective hometowns, Silye remembers the conversations leading to his appointment as the team’s Captain for the 2019/20 season, “I think the conversation between Fred and I really started at the end of the season in my exit interview,” Silye said, “We both didn’t like the way the season ended and we were both on the same page from that day on with how the summer would look and some of the differences on what to do from last season to this season.”
“I didn’t really find out I was going to wear the ‘C’ until training camp,” continued Silye, “Coming in and earning that spot, it was a really good feeling. I’m honoured to have been the captain of this team and join a long list of players who have done a lot of great things.”
With a bit of a weight on his left chest, the Arnprior, Ontario native went to work on his second season with the Vees and his team started the best way they could have imagined, beginning with an unbeaten preseason record including a pair of victories against the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits. As has been a theme amongst the players looking back on the season, those two games against their Alberta foes paved the way for a competitive end to the exhibition season.
“I think if you ask any guy that took part in those games, they will tell you it felt like a playoff game,” mentioned Silye, “I think that’s exactly what we needed to get ready for the season and get into that mindset to be game ready. Those first couple of games to begin the season are always the toughest and you never know how they are going to go but I think those games against Brooks really helped prepare us for the regular season.”
The new season kicked off with a budding rivalry as the Vees travelled to the West Kootenays to take on the Trail Smoke Eaters. Two teams that recruited very well in the offseason led to a hyped open weekend of the BCHL season, where Penticton went on to outscore Trail by an 11-2 margin in the two contests against teams that would finish 1-2, respectively, in the Interior Division, “After the Brooks series, we were ready to go,” explained Silye, “Especially with the rivalry between us and Trail, we had some confidence in winning those games and it helped us out all year. We had a winning record against Trail and I thought we outplayed them every time we faced off against each other and that was big for us.”
The two wins to begin the season kicked off a stretch of 11 victories in a row for the Vees and one that did not see the team trail much during that time, “There was a game against Prince George where we battled from behind and got a win but we felt good about our game and just had different guys step up every night and that was the story all season,” commented Silye, “We had five 20-goal scorers and it just shows you how spread out our offense was while still having guys produce a high-level of points.”
It didn’t take long for the captain to realize the Vees had something special going this season, “At the beginning of the year, when we beat Brooks, it was kind of that moment where I thought we had something going,” stated Silye, “Whether we were down or up in games, we were always fighting for each other and sticking up for one another and that’s when you felt we were a real close team when everyone wanted to help in every way they could.”
Penticton only faltered three times from January to the end of the season with pressing the ‘reset’ button at the holiday break being a big contributor, “It’s kind of nice to have that little break,” said Silye, “Guys are starting to miss their family and with the trade deadline coming up, I think it had guys worried here and there but as soon as we came back from the break, we had our team and we just ran with it. Everyone bought into the system and played playoff hockey and because of that, we had a real strong finish to the season.”
As part of the leadership group, welcoming new players into the locker room was part of the job description for Silye, who felt the right kind of players were brought in at the right time, “I think it was all in the kind of guys were brought in and Fred was able to get character guys,” commented Silye, “The guys we brought in had experience, whether it be at this level or in major junior, and they were veterans and knew how to carry themselves. They made it easy on us to help them feel welcome and I think the boys did a great job in making everyone who came in the locker room feel welcome as well.”
No one expected the season to end on Carson Kosobud’s overtime winning, series-clinching goal against the West Kelowna Warriors in Game #5 of the Interior Division Quarter Finals but for Silye, who was injured for the bulk of the series, sitting on the bench for his first career playoff series win was a moment that will always stick out.
“Fred giving me the chance to just be on the bench and with the way we won the game, it kind of just summarized it all,” said Silye, who turned 21-years-old two days prior to the Vees concluding the series, “Winning my first playoff series in four years and coming from behind to win in overtime is a one of the biggest memories I am going to take away from my junior hockey career.”
The memories are a plentiful for a four-year BCHL veteran like Silye, who spent the first two seasons of his career in Nanaimo with the Clippers before making his way to the Peach City and there will be things that he will miss about the city, “I think just everything about Penticton, it’s a special hockey town,” mentioned Silye, “The facilities are top notch and every person they bring in is a high quality person and it makes coming to the rink every day that much better. Whether you need help with schooling or some work with physio, they have all the tools to help you and I think Graham and Sue Fraser do a great job in giving a lot to the team and the community and it’s one of the best spots to play in.”
After a junior hockey career of 247 games, split between regular season and playoff action, Silye is ready to usher in a new chapter in his life, that of a college hockey player where he will head to Clarkson University in the fall, “When I was 17, I wanted to be in college so I’m pretty excited and anxious to get out there,” said Silye, “It’s been something I have been looking forward to for the last four years and I’m really excited to get things going with them and I will be ready whenever I get the chance to play.”
The Vees would like to thank David for everything he contributed over the past two seasons to the organization and the City of Penticton and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavours!