Kamloops product Garrett Ewert was part of a three-team trade by the Penticton Vees that sent the rights of defenceman James Miller to the Melfort Mustangs, while he was moved to the West Kelowna Warriors. The Vees received centre Dakota Boutin from the Mustangs. Emanuel Sequeira/Western News

Vees send defenceman to Warriors, land needed centre

The Penticton Vees traded Garrett Ewert to the Warriors, get centre from Melfort Mustangs

In need of another centre, the Penticton Vees have shipped defenceman Garrett Ewert to the West Kelowna Warriors.

The Kamloops product was part of a three-team trade in which the Vees also sent the rights to defenceman James Miller to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Melfort Mustangs to acquire 1997-born centre Dakota Boutin.

“After evaluating our needs, the opportunity to add an experienced right-handed centre became available,” said Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson in a team statement. “Dakota has the experience of winning a Telus Cup in midget and back-to-back Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championships. He’ll create depth at our forward group and we’re excited to get him ready to play college hockey.”

Boutin, a native of Moosomin, Sask., has spent the last three seasons with the Mustangs scoring 57 goals and adding 84 assists in 150 games. He helped the Mustangs to SJHL championships in 2015 and ‘16. At the 2015 Western Canada Cup, he scored a goal and two assists to help the Mustangs reach the RBC Cup. Boutin is committed to play at Northern Michigan University with the Wildcats next season. Boutin will practice with his new teammates this week before making his debut in the season opener Sept. 8 in Merritt. Ewert dressed in one game as an affiliate last season and played in two pre-season games this year.

In other Vees news, Taylor Ward and Jonny Tychonick are having A’s stitched to their jerseys.

The Penticton Vees announced Monday that Ward and Tychonick join co-captains Owen Sillinger and Grant Cruikshank as part of the leadership group.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s a huge honour. There has been lots of great leaders here,” said Tychonick. “We have a wonderful leadership group on the team right now. There is a full locker room of leaders and we’re going to need every single one of them to step up and lead at some point during the season.”

Ward said having that responsibility means that his teammates and coaches recognize that he may have some leadership qualities.

“That’s what I always wanted to be. I wanted to come in here and as a third-year guy, I wanted to lead by example,” said Ward, committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the fall of 2018. “I think that by getting this A, I think that the team and the coaches and myself are all on the same page.”

Harbinson said he was pleased with all the returning players and is impressed by the culture on the new group.

“Our leadership is solid with the addition of Taylor who I’ve seen mature during his time with the Vees,” said Harbinson in a team statement. “With regards to Jonny, he has trusted the process and his actions over the offseason have shown he deserves to wear a letter.” Jonny Tychonick

Ward, a Kelowna native, enters his third season as a Vee having played 116 regular season games and scoring 33 points. He played a big role in the Vees Fred Page Cup championship last season, scoring four goals and adding five assists in 21 games.

Tychonick, from Calgary, begins his second season patrolling the blue line after scoring three times and tallying 20 assists in 48 games. He was also named to Team Canada West for the 2017 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Bonnyville, Alta., where he scored once with one assist in four games. He is slated to attend the University of North Dakota next fall.