Okanagan players to feast on European hockey

Hudson Kibblewhite, 11, and Austin Seibel, 14, heading overseas for spring tournaments

He can’t touch the Italian wine, but Hudson Kibblewhite, 11, is looking forward to authentic Italian pizza and spaghetti.

Oh, and some hockey, too.

The captain of the Vernon Watkin Motors Mustangs Tier 2 PeeWee hockey team is one of two local players heading overseas for some spring hockey later this month.

Kibblewhite will be joining the 2007 West Coast Selects spring hockey team for a tournament in Balzano, in northern Italy, and home of the Hockey Club Bolzano-Bozen Foxes, who play in the AHL – Austrian Hockey League.

“I was playing in some different tournaments with different teams. I went to Winnipeg with the Vancouver Bears and the Selects saw me play and asked if I wanted to go to Italy,” said Kibblewhite, a Grade 6 student at Hillview Elementary, who will be accompanied to Italy by his mom, Kailea.

A fan of the Calgary Flames and their speedster sniper Johnny Gaudreau, Kibblewhite has been playing hockey since he can remember.

“I just love playing hockey. When I was little, I always grabbed a hockey stick,” he said. “The tournament will be fun. The ice is bigger so that will be a bit of an adjustment.”

RELATED: Vernon’s Seibel high on European hockey trek

Kibblewhite leaves April 23, just a few days before goalie Austin Seibel of Coldstream and his dad, Trevor, head to the hockey, er, ‘hotbed’ of San Sebastian, Spain, where Seibel will suit up for the 2005 West Coast Selects in a spring tournament at the home of the Club Hockey Hielo Txuri Urdin, a Spanish club that plays in the country’s national league, the Liga Nacional de Hockey Hielo.

Wikipedia describes San Sebastian as “a resort town on the Bay of Biscay in Spain’s mountainous Basque Country. It’s known for Playa de la Concha and Playa de Ondarreta, beaches framed by a picturesque bayfront promenade, and world-renowned restaurants helmed by innovative chefs.” It does not mention hockey. Not that it matters to Seibel.

“I’m very excited to be going,” said Seibel, 14, a Grade 8 student at Kalamalka Secondary, who is becoming a veteran of these tours. He played with the Selects last year in Chamonix, France.

“I had been to a tournament with another team, there were a bunch of scouts there, but there was one game I did really well, they (Selects) found us and contacted my dad,” said Seibel of the trip to France.

“It was fun, entertaining, exciting. The hockey was very competitive.”

A Vancouver Canucks fan who listed minor league pro Jeff Glass as his favourite goalie, Seibel is following in dad’s skates and pads, as the administrator for the District of Coldstream still plays the position in rec hockey.

“He’s been a big influence,” said Seibel, who was videoed scoring a goal in an intermission game at a Canucks’ NHL contest. “He got me into playing goalie. I wanted to play the position and he talks to me after each game about how I played, what I did well and what I can do differently next time.”

READ ALSO: Mustangs capture provincial championship

Seibel, who helped backstop the Vernon Sun Valley Source For Sports Bantam Vipers to the Okanagan final this season, and Kibblewhite led the Mustangs in winning the Vernon Coca-Cola Classic Winter Carnival tournament and B.C. Tier 2 championship in 2018.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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