Owen Spannier is excited to attend school 20 minutes from home at UBCO, while he plays for the Okanagan Lakers.
The Lakers are an expansion team in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League and Spannier is one of their latest Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) product signings.
The Lake Country native is excited to play for the Lakers while he studies management.
Spannier, who turns 20 in November, has had an interest in that program and felt now is the time to begin his education in that field. Plus, the North Okanagan Knights forward wanted to play college hockey while doing it.
“There are some good hockey players on that team. We have a group chat going and it seems like a pretty good group so far,” says Spannier, who had 29 points in 57 career KIJHL games.
Spannier, who got his first shot of KIJHL experience at 17 as an affiliate with the Knights, played as a rookie with the Sicamous Eagles in 2019-20 and had nine goals and 24 points in 48 games. Spannier loved the ice time the players received in Sicamous and said the coaching staff pushed them to be better players.
With the Knights, Spannier loved asking coach Dean McAmmond questions. He also enjoyed hearing McAmmond’s stories about playing with Jarome Iginla in Calgary but also learning ways to make plays.
Spannier loved learning from McAmmond’s coaching staff with Tony Guerra and Liam McOnie and he looked up to McAmmond because he played in the NHL.
When Spannier was affiliated with the Knights, he had two goals and four points in six games giving him the confidence he could play in the league. He really appreciated the opportunities McAmmond gave him and during his time in the KIJHL, the six-foot-three, 215-pound forward developed a grinding style with playmaking ability.
“I can find a way to get the job done,” says Spannier.
The Lakers’ head coach is Kevin Bathurst, who has more than 14 years of experience coaching scouting and management at the U-Sport, Junior A, Junior B, and Canadian Sport School Hockey League. He has been coaching 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 B.C. Hockey League with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Chilliwack Chiefs and Prince George Spruce Kings, as well as the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs. He has coached in the Okanagan since 2016 at various levels, including the KIJHL.
Colpron is a former standout from the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, where he was captain of the Campbell River Storm.