In 1990-91, Shawn Carter debuted for his hometown Penticton Panthers in their inaugural season in the B.C. Junior Hockey League.
Thirty years later, his son Levi, 18, made his B.C. Hockey League debut as an affiliate player with the Penticton Vees. This comes after starting the season with the Osoyoos Coyotes in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Levi has contributed to the success of the Vees in winning their Pod during the 2020-21 BCHL Pod season. They finished with 18 wins, a loss and tie. Levi played 12 games, collecting four assists.
Playing for the Penticton junior hockey club has been special for Levi, because of his father’s history, spending two seasons with the Panthers. Levi says he cherishes this experience because of that and gives his best all the time.
“Hopefully when the season ends, a good result turns out,” says Levi, who hopes to have showcased himself enough to the Vees for next season. “If not, I’ll move on.”
“It’s a pretty cool experience really,” says Shawn, who had 16 goals and 43 points in 105 games BCJHL games.
The South Okanagan Events Centre is the home of the Vees and there are areas highlighting the history of the organization, including the hall outside their dressing room.
“They have a plaque with all the players who played in the Knights, the Panthers, the Vees era. I found my dad’s name on there. It was pretty cool,” says Levi. “I took a picture of it. I just sat there staring and a bunch of thoughts went through my head.”
Shawn is more impressed by accomplishment for his son to have a chance to play Junior A hockey.
“It’s something he should be proud of. It’s an accomplishment to play anywhere,” says Shawn. “It’s such a great league.”
Playing in Canada’s best Junior A league has been a great experience for Levi, who had an excellent start to his junior career with the Coyotes. He’s enjoyed getting a taste of the BCHL.
“I was definitely nervous. A lot of nerves are going through my system,” recalls Levi of his first two games. “Just stepping on the ice, and especially in a Vees uniform, because I remember growing up, and playing in Penticton, that’s your dream is to play for the Vees. Just wearing that jersey, it was awesome.”
As he adjusted Levi was more comfortable and moving his feet. He’s played with everyone on the roster, but has mostly seen action with Coyotes teammate Crae Dawson, Tom Richter, Stefano Bottini and Tyler Ho.
“All those guys are super talented. It makes it quite easy to play with them,” says Levi, who has felt his confidence go up a lot.
Levi and his father evaluate his play after each game. Shawn, who has coached in Penticton Minor Hockey, simply points out what Levi needs to do and what he’s done well.
Following his two seasons with the Vees, Shawn moved away from home to play with Brandon University from 1992-94. In 55 games, Shawn had 17 goals and 39 points in the Canada West University Athletic Association.
Shawn is able to share things with Levi because he went through the same things.
“There is always going to be ups and downs. Ride the ups and not make the lows too long,” he says. “I think he has played great. I think he has done exactly what he has needed to do to play in the BCHL, and he has made the most of it. It’s an opportunity to keep skating and he has taken advantage of it. It’s all confidence. To see the first couple games, him and Crae were nervous. They have done well.”
The best advice he gives his son is to not take a shift off.
“You have to make it count. You don’t have to go out there and score 10 goals,” says Shawn. “Go out there and do the little things. Show Fred (Harbinson, Vees head coach-GM) he can play the game. Do the little things right and the big things will come.”
The difference Shawn sees in the BCHL from when he played is the players are faster and more skilled overall. All the teams have depth. When he played, teams had two skilled lines and the game was more physical game.
“They were trying to clean up the game when I played,” says Shawn, who played with future Hall of Famer Paul Kariya.
Levi has used each day to improve as a player. The feedback Levi receives from the coaching staff is to keep moving his feet. Levi has enjoyed learning from the coaches, who he says are really good. Vees players who don’t play a lot, receive extra ice time with assistant coach Matt Fraser. Levi and the others focus on skill development and learning the Vees’ plays.
Levi is loving being around the players and soaking in the experience, especially off the ice. He is surrounded by a great group and they play EA Sports hockey on the Xbox and hang out at the rink.