Gabe Bast is set to the return to the Penticton Vees lineup after missing 49 games with a lower body injury.
The Red Deer native resumed skating two weeks ago and Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said he looks great after going through his first contact practice on Monday.
“It looks like he will be ready to play Wednesday night,” said Harbinson, among three finalists for the Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy as coach of the year.
Bast, however, said nothing is set in stone yet about him playing.
“Hopefully Wednesday my name is on that lineup card,” said Bast, who said he feels ready to play.
The Vees, 48-6-0-1, host the Surrey Eagles, 7-45-0-2, in their final regular season home game on Wicked Wednesday, which Harbinson said is important.
“I’m not too worried about rust. He’s a great hockey player, has very good instincts,” said Harbinson. “He’s looked good the last few weeks of practice.”
“It’s unbelievable. It’s been a long time coming,” said Bast, who has three points in six games and hasn’t played since the BCHL Bauer Showcase in Chilliwack on Sept. 25.
Bast, who played for Team Canada West in last years World Junior A Hockey Challenge, said his first contact practice went well. Before he sets foot on the ice, he has a few meetings with the team and medical staff. It was special for him to get back on the ice with his teammates and the feeling was mutual.
“Honestly it’s awesome,” said Vees captain Tyson Jost, featured in the Hockey News’ prospect report with teammate Dante Fabbro. “You look at the guy and he’s gone through so much this year. He’s a good buddy of mine. I’ve known him for quite some time now. To see him back on the ice, it brings excitement back to our team. He’s a really key guy in our locker room.
“It’s going to be pretty cool seeing him back on the ice in that Vees jersey,” continued Jost, named one of three finalists for the Vern Dye Memorial Trophy as most valuable player. “I’m sure the fans will love it too. I know he’s really excited and that we are too.”
Jost said Bast has looked good in practice. His presence will only boost the situation for the Vees, currently the top team in the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings.
“To get a big piece like that back in your lineup, it’s huge,” said Jost, who will join Bast at the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks next fall. “He’s snapping the puck out there. He looks fresh.”
Along with Bast returning, Harbinson said that Dom Masellis looks ready to go this week, giving the Vees eight healthy defenceman. Demico Hannoun may miss some time as he got banged up against the Victoria Grizzlies and the team is waiting on test results for Darius Davidson, who has mono.
The Vees and Penticton Auto Sales will be raffling off a fully loaded all-wheel drive 2004 Nissan Murano SE. Raffle tickets are $2 each and can be purchased at the SOEC the night of the game with proceeds going to School District 67’s Breakfast Program.
The BCHL released its nominees for its annual awards. Players are selected based on polling of the league’s coaches with one player from each division identified. Coaches will survey the names one final time to choose the winners, announced on Friday.
Vern Dye Memorial Trophy (MVP)
Interior Division – Tyson Jost
Mainland Division – Jordan Kawaguchi, Chilliwack Chiefs
Island Division – Sheldon Rempal, Nanaimo Clippers
(others receiving multiple votes: Scott Conway, Jackson Cressey, Jeff Smith, Jonathan Desbiens, Yanni Kaldis, Colton Kerfoot, Colin Grannary, Matt Graham, Darien Craighead)
Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
Interior Division – Odeen Tufto, Vernon Vipers
Mainland Division – Vimal Sukumaran, Chilliwack Chiefs
Island Division – Kyle Betts, Powell River Kings
(others receiving multiple votes: Austin McIlmurray, Carter Turnbull, Justin Fregona, Easton Brodzinski, Michael Faulkner, Matt Hudie, Matthew Galajda, Jeffrey Stewart, Kohen Olischefski, Max Kaufman, Chase Zieky)
Top Defenceman Trophy
Interior Division – Dante Fabbro, Penticton Vees
Mainland Division – Dennis Cholowski, Chilliwack Chiefs
Island Division – Yanni Kaldis, Nanaimo Clippers
(others receiving multiple votes: Bryan Yoon, Paul Meyer, Colton Poolman, Rylan Yaremko, Matthew Stief, Nick Fiorentino, Adam Brubacher, Will Campion, Taylor Green)
Bob Fenton Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike Player)
Interior Division – Taro Hirose, Salmon Arm Silverbacks
Mainland Division – Colton Kerfoot, Coquitlam Express
Island Division – Chris Schutz, Alberni Valley Bulldogs
(others receiving multiple votes: Liam Finlay, Jordan Kawaguchi, Carter Turnbull, Justin Szeto, Odeen Tufto, Jordan Sandhu)
Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy (Coach of the Year)
Interior Division – Fred Harbinson
Mainland Division – Bliss Littler, Wenatchee Wild
Island Division – Mike Vandekamp, Nanaimo Clippers
(others receiving multiple votes: Rylan Ferster, Jason Tatarnic, Bobby Henderson, Bob Beatty, Kent Lewis)