Hockey’s ultimate badge of honour for leadership will be worn by not one, but two members of the Penticton Vees this season.
Thomas Pitchette and Callum Arnott — the team’s only returning players from last year — have been named as co-captains for the defending Fred Page Cup champions ahead of the
“It’s an honour,” Pitchette told the Western News as he enters his third season in Penticton. “We have a lot of new guys here, so we need to get everyone going and lead by example on and off the ice.”
Pitchette and Arnott are the 57th and 58th players in Vees’ franchise history to wear the ‘C’, succeeding last year’s captain Frank Djurasevic.
The pair say they look forward to leading a new-look roster as the Penticton franchise aims to do something it hasn’t in more than 40 years — win three consecutive Fred Page Cup titles.
“High expectations is where you want to be,” Arnott, 19, said. “I think we have a really good group this year, guys are buying into the system and I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”
“I think we definitely have all the pieces to win again,” Pitchette, 20, added.
The team’s announcement this week doesn’t mark the first time in franchise history two players have been appointed to wear the ‘C.’
Patrick Sexton and Cody DePourcq captained the Vees’
“We wanted captains that understand the league, understand what this team means to Penticton, and understand our program’s high standards,” said Fred Harbinson, the team’s head coach, general manager and president.
“Cal and Thomas have won championships and know what it takes.”
Pitchette and Arnott say they’ve previously served in captaincy roles during their minor hockey careers in Quebec and Ontario.
And in Arnott’s case, wearing the ‘C’ runs in the family.
His uncle, Jason Arnott, served as captain of the Nashville Predators from 2007 to 2010.
“If I could be half the leader he was, then I’ll be very happy,” the Vees forward said.
Off the ice, Pitchette and Arnott say they’ve enjoyed showing the Vees’ newest players around the city since training camp kicked off Sept. 1. Team bonding activities have included trips to the beach, golf course and several local restaurants.
“We’re so fortunate to be in such a great town and it’s not something to take for granted,” Arnott said.
“It means a lot to be a Vee because when it’s gone, you’re going to miss it,” Pichette added.
Rounding out Penticton’s leadership group for
Pitchette and Arnott, meanwhile, say they’re excited to hit the ice with their new teamates to wrap up the pre-season this Saturday, Sept. 16, at the South Okanagan Events Centre before the team opens their regular-season schedule on the road against the West Kelowna Warriors on Sept. 22.
“It’s tough not to be excited when you play here,” Pichette said.