An avalanche of growth for Vees defenceman

Penticton Vees defenceman Leivermann drafted by NHL team

Glued to the TV with his mom during the NHL Entry draft, Nicky Leivermann watched as the Colorado Avalanche were about to make their seventh round selection, 187th overall.

His ears perked and stomach fluttered as he heard his hometown called, only to be held on a cliffhanger like a TV show cutting to commercial at the most dramatic point.

“Our TV shut out as soon they said from Eden Prairie, Minn.,” said Leivermann, a Penticton Vees defenceman. “We weren’t totally sure if it was me, because there was a couple of other guys who were up there for prospects.”

“Yeah, my heart dropped right away. I had a little bit thinking it was me. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure.”

While one form of technology failed him, thank goodness for another.

”I got a text pretty much right after from a couple of buddies just saying congrats. It was a pretty special moment.”

“Getting that text from a couple guys about 30 seconds later made my heart go back up. Me and my mom just hugged right after. It was a pretty cool moment for our family.”

Later came the call from Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, Hockey Hall of Famer and on the list of the 100 Greatest NHL players. Sakic congratulated Leivermann and wished him well.

“Every kid obviously has dreams of playing in the NHL. Being drafted is just one of the steps along the process,” said Leivermann.

The Vees defenceman knows there is work ahead of him before he is able to live out his dream. After being drafted, he flew out to Colorado getting the chance to meet Sakic, which he described as “pretty surreal” and participated in the rookie development camp. While there, he met former Vees captain Tyson Jost, who made the team out of training camp after making his NHL debut last season playing in six games.

“He seems like an awesome guy. I’m looking forward to watching him this season,” said Leivermann, who enjoys watching every NHL team.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish commit put in a lot of work over the summer to be ready for the B.C. Hockey League season. Listed at five-foot-11, 195 pounds, Leivermann said being selected by an NHL team makes him want to work that much harder. Leivermann said his season with the Vees is going well so far. Offensively he is averaging .88 points per game, while still getting used to the junior A circuit.

“Playing a team like Vernon, it takes about a game for me to fully get used to them,” he said. “It was nice playing them two times in a week. Get used to them and then try to execute and be more of a playmaker the second game.”

Known for his offensive skills, he captained Eden Prairie High School where he notched 10 goals and 34 points in 21 games, Leivermann is placing an emphasis on getting better defensively this season.

“I think the main thing is, if I want to make it pretty big in college hockey and eventually play in the NHL, is going to be defensive play,” he said. “I’m a smaller guy. Try to use my stick well.”

Leivermann was named the game’s second star in Penticton’s 4-2 win over the Victoria Grizzlies Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Leivermann and the Vees will be back in action Wednesday when they host the Langley Rivermen at 7 p.m.

Ice chips:

The Vees, ranked by the CJHL as No. 2 in the country, kept their undefeated status by dropping the Merritt Centennials and then defeating the Victoria Grizzlies last weekend.

It was a come from behind win against the Centennials while on the road last Friday. The Vees beat them in overtime 3-2 after trailing by two goals late in the third period. The Vees then picked up a 4-2 win over the Grizzlies on Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

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