Owen Spannier is thrilled to be going to school 20 minutes from his home at UBCO, while playing for the Okanagan Lakers.
The Lakers are an expansion team in the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League and Spannier is one of their latest product signings from the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL).
The Lake Country native is excited to play for the Lakers while he studies management.
Spannier, who turns 20 in November, became interested in this program and felt the time had come to begin his studies in this field. Plus, the North Okanagan Knights forward wanted to play college hockey while doing it.
“There are some good hockey players on this team. We have a group chat and it seems like a pretty good group so far, ”said Spannier, who has 29 points in 57 career KIJHL games.
Spannier, who got his first KIJHL experience at 17 as an affiliate with the Knights, played as a rookie with the Sicamous Eagles in 2019-20 and scored nine goals and 24 points in 48 games. Spanier loved the ice time the players received at Sicamous and said the coaching staff pushed them to be better players.
With the Knights, Spannier liked to ask questions of coach Dean McAmmond. He also loved hearing McAmmond’s stories about playing with Jarome Iginla in Calgary, but also learning to do plays.
Spannier enjoyed learning from the McAmmond coaching staff with Tony Guerra and Liam McOnie and he admired McAmmond because he played in the NHL.
When Spannier was affiliated with the Knights, he had two goals and four points in six games, which gave him confidence that he could play in the league. He really enjoyed the opportunities McAmmond gave him and during his time in the KIJHL, the six-foot-three, 215-pound forward developed a crushing style with playing ability.
“I can find a way to get the job done,” says Spannier.
The Lakers head coach is Kevin Bathurst, who has over 14 years of experience as a recruiting and management coach with the U-Sport Hockey League, Junior A, Junior B and athletic schools. Canadian. He has been the coach of the Pursuit of Excellence Midget Varsity team since 2018.
Bathurst is joined on the bench by assistant coaches Ryan Hawes and Gage Colpron. Hawes played in the BC Hockey League with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Chilliwack Chiefs and Prince George Spruce Kings, as well as the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. He has been coaching the Okanagan since 2016 at various levels including the KIJHL.
Colpron is a former star player of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, where he was captain of the Campbell River Storm.