On a day Twitter was almost broken and Canada was on a verge of a national crisis, a pretty cool story emerge involving two Penticton natives and two alumni. NEARLY every Canadian waited with bated breath this morning for the release of the men’s Olympic roster; and when it was released, Penticton’s Duncan Keith was one of the 25 NHL’ers selected for Team Canada. Not a shocker, as the former Penticton Panther was on the 2010 gold medal winning team and is one of the best defensemen on the planet.
However, lost in the hysteria of Team Canada’s snubs and who should have or shouldn’t be on the team, was the fact another Penticton native was named to an Olympic hockey roster. Yes, Brian Lebler (who was born in Austria when dad Ed was playing pro there), was named to Austria’s Olympic hockey team. Brian, who’s 25, plays pro in Austria (and holds dual citizenship), and played two seasons for the Vees from 2004-2006. Brian grew up in Penticton, did most of his schooling in Penticton before playing for his hometown team. After the Vees, he went on to play four years at Michigan for the legendary Red Berenson.
Pretty cool story, as two Penticton kids, travelling two VERY different paths , will both be in Sochi, Russia. AND it gets better; Keith and Lebler will actually face one another on February 14th, when Canada plays Austria.
Vees Press Release:
–Two alumni, two Penticton products, will be representing two different countries at the 2014 Winter Olympics next month in Russia.
Tuesday was the deadline for hockey federations to submit their 25-man rosters for the Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Former Penticton Panther and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was named to Team Canada’s men’s Olympic team, and former Penticton Vees forward Brian Lebler will suit up for Austria men’s Olympic squad.
Keith played in 128 games over two seasons with the Penticton Panthers from 1999-2001, racking up 31 goals and 128 points. In his final season with the Panthers, Keith compiled a staggering 18 goals and 82 points in 60 regular season games, en route to being named the BCHL’s Top Defensemen. Keith is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks (2010 & 2013) and was a member of the 2010 gold medal winning men’s Olympic team in Vancouver. Keith also won the 2010 James Norris Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s best defensemen. Keith has amassed 62 goals and 351 points in over 650 career games in the NHL.
Brian Lebler is the son of Vees consultant Ed Lebler and played two seasons with the Vees from 2004-2006. Lebler, born in Austria but grew up in Penticton, played in 135 games with the Vees, tallying 49 goals and 79 points. After graduating from the Vees, Lebler played four years at the University of Michigan. In 145 games with the Wolverines, Lebler compiled 33 goals and 59 points and won a Central Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament Championship in 2010. Lebler currently plays in Austria’s top division, the Erste Bank Hockey League for EHC LIWEST Black Wings Linz, who are based in Linz, Austria. Lebler has played in 130 games over three seasons for the Black Wings, collecting 66 goals and 122 points. Lebler won a league championship with the Black Wings in 2012.
The Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics kicks-off February 12th, with the gold medal game scheduled for February 23rd. Keith and Team Canada face Lebler and Austria on February 14th.