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BCHL’s 1st ever ‘exceptional status’ player commits to Penticton Vees

Cowichan Bay’s Eli McKamey will play in the South Okanagan next season
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Eli McKamey, 15, signs with the Penticton Vees ahead of the 2024-2025 season. (Photo- BCHL)

For the first time in league history, a player has been granted exceptional status in the BCHL.

Eli McKamey, 15, has received early eligibility to play in the league and will do so for the Penticton Vees during the 2024-2025 season, the team announced Friday (May 12).

Without exceptional status, the Cowichan Bay product wouldn’t have been allowed to play in the BCHL until 2025-2026.

McKamey is considered a top prospect ahead of the 2027 NHL Draft.

The forward has spent the last three seasons playing for the Shawnigan Lake School in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL).

“I believe playing for the Penticton Vees is a great opportunity for development as a player and as a person,” said McKamey. “Playing in the BCHL allows me to keep my future options open, while still playing in a highly competitive league. I’m excited for the challenge.”

The exceptional status framework is designed to give early eligibility to players “who possess exceptional traits in hockey and athletic acumen, mental and physical maturity, work ethic and education,” the BCHL said in a press release.

“This is an exciting moment for the BCHL and obviously our organization,” said Fred Harbinson, the Vees’ president, general manager and head coach.

“Eli McKamey is an exceptional talent who was rated as the No. 1 forward for the past WHL draft. Eli will be the next young elite player to wear a Vees jersey with the hope of winning a championship in Penticton en route to college and the NHL.”

The BCHL Board of Governors in January voted in favour of adding an exceptional status application process.

READ MORE: Penticton Vees’ quest for ‘3-peat’ begins