Jack Ramsey was in class when he found out he made Craig Button’s draft list.
“One of my teammates showed me. I was a bit surprised,” said the Penticton Vees rookie forward, ranked 27th among the top 30 players eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, according to Button, TSN director of scouting.
“It was exciting.”
With it being the first list and the draft a ways away, Ramsey, son of former NHL defenceman Mike Ramsey, said he tries not to put too much stock in it.
The 17-year-old describes himself as a two-way forward who plays smart and brings a physical dimension.
What Button likes about Ramsey is that he’s a very determined and smart player with skill.
“Has his father’s competitive spirit and understanding,” said Button in response to a question sent to his Twitter account.
Last season with the Minnetonka High School Skippers, Ramsey had nine goals and 27 points in 24 games. He decided to play junior hockey in Penticton because of his friend, Louie Nanne, a former Vee, whom he played against in high school. From there, he visited the Okanagan and loved the South Okanagan Events Centre and the opportunity to play in the BCHL.
“It’s great hockey. It’s a beautiful place to play,” said Ramsey, who will play in the second annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 26. “Lucky opportunity for me to get.”
Making the adjustment from high school to junior will involve adapting to a more physical game against older competition. Playing 58 games compared to 24 will be another adjustment.
“I’m just trying to hold on right now,” said Ramsey.
One of the benefits of having a father who played in the NHL is learning about the defensive side of hockey. Ramsey, who turns 18 on Nov. 2, talks to his father after every game. His dad watches most of them.
“I have coaches on the bench, then when I get off the ice, I have another coach talk to me. Sometimes it can be a burden. Sometimes I don’t want to hear it,” he joked. “Most of the time it’s good stuff to hear. It helps me out.”
A Minnesota Wild fan, Ramsey has had the pleasure of being near the team since his dad coached there. He also watched a lot of games as a kid at the Xcel Energy Center.
“Sometimes I heard things in the locker room I shouldn’t have heard,” said Ramsey, who looked up to former Wild players Wes Walz and the late Derek Boogaard. “I think it helped me mature. I had an advantage of being on the ice more. I got to skate there when I was little.”
Ramsey, who likes the playing style of Wild forward Kyle Brodziak, will make his Vees debut this weekend during the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack. Their first game is against the Victoria Grizzlies and he’s excited for the new experience that including playing new teams. He will also have a watchful eye in the stands.
“My dad is making the trip. Hopefully impress him a little bit,” he said. “Big step, first weekend to try to make an impression.”
Vees coach Fred Harbinson said his team has had good practices leading up to the weekend.
“It’s going to be a funny atmosphere where you’re playing on the practice sheet at 3:30 in the afternoon,” said Harbinson, whose team went undefeated in five exhibition games. “It will be a different feel to the game. Go out there and play like we’ve been playing. We know every point is so critical. At the same time, we’re not going to live and die by this weekend.”
Harbinson said they are excited about the group and how they have come together. One of the highlights of their exhibition play was the performances of goalie Olivier Mantha and Hunter Miska, who allowed just three goals in the five games. The Vees began implementing their systems in training camp and Harbinson is happy with the defensive play.
Vees notes: On Wednesday evening, Anthony Conti posted on Twitter that he had committed to the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves, the same school Mantha will join next fall. Conti, whose Twitter handle is @Anthonyconti61 said he’s “really happy to have committed to UAA today.”
Also, the Vees have rounded out their leadership group as defenceman Chris Rygus joins Travis Blanleil as an assistant captain along with captain Brad McClure. In a statement released by the team, Harbinson said, “Chris has all the leadership qualities we look for in a captain, experience, dedication, and toughness.”
“Chris will be able to draw from the many championship experiences he has been a part of in the past to help lead our team,” said Harbinson.
Rygus, 20, is playing in his fourth and final season of junior hockey, his first with the Vees. The Mississauga, Ont. native played last season with the Nanaimo Clippers before being acquired via trade this past off-season. The six-foot-three rear-guard picked up six goals and 21 points in 55 games. Rygus also helped lead the Woodstock Slammers of the Maritime Junior Hockey League to the RBC Cup final in 2012, losing to the Vees 4-3.