The Penticton Vees got more than a point producer when they traded for Chris Gerrie last June.
“He’s one of the better players in the league. He’s been a great acquisition for us,” said Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson, who picked up the Red Deer native for Jarod Hilderman. “He’s got a great stick.”
Harbinson said when Gerrie moves his feet, he creates problems for the other team.
“The biggest thing for him that he wanted, and we’re trying to help him, is be consistent,” said Harbinson.
Gerrie, who won the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s rookie of the year in 2013-14 following a season in which he put up 54 points in 60 games, felt he needed to move on to a stronger league, which led to him making the hard choice of approaching Olds Grizzlys’ head coach and director of hockey operations Dana Lattery for a trade.
Since coming to the BCHL and playing with the Vees, the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s top team, the transition has gone well. The five-foot-10, 175-pounder has been able to adapt to the quicker league, whose teams have more depth compared to the AJHL, he said.
“It’s making my game better. I’m just excited to be in this league. It’s a really good league,” said Gerrie, who next fall will make the jump to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Michigan Tech program. “I think going forward it’s going to be good for me and my future.”
In joining the Vees, Gerrie knew he was coming to a solid program with the chance to return to the RBC Cup. That excited him. Especially because his final season with the Grizzlys involved a short playoff run, in which he put up two goals in three games following a campaign of 61 points in 59 games. That was tough on him.
The former Red Deer Chief said he feels he been playing better. He also cares about playing well in the defensive end and feels that is where the chances can start.
“Now I’m getting used to the speed. I’m starting to use my feet,” said Gerrie, who has has 17 points in 19 games and has been kept off the scoresheet in nine games.
At the start of the season, Gerrie played with captain Tyson Jost and Scott Conway and he said it was awesome, describing them as “two great players.”
“They are two great guys on and off the ice. It was really fun playing with those guys. It was really fast paced,” said Gerrie, who loves watching Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Kane and his wizardry.
Now playing with Nicholas Jones and Owen Sillinger to give the Vees balanced scoring, Gerrie feels they are developing chemistry. Gerrie was familiar with Jones having played one season against him in the AJHL in 2013-14.
“We have been bonding really well off the ice, trying to get chemistry,” said Gerrie, adding that they play ping pong and watch NHL games. “We’re getting better every game. Had some talks about we they played against each other. Kind of laughed about that. Bonding off the ice is the best way.”
“Right now, I really like the line with Nicholas Jones and Owen Sillinger,” said Harbinson. “We don’t want to be a one-line team.
“We’ve seen in the past you need more than one line scoring goals if you want to win a championship,” he continued.
On Tuesday in Trail, Gerrie helped the Vees earn their 20th straight win. His goal in the first period gave the Vees a 2-0 lead in the opening six minutes and eventually was the winner in a 7-1 final. Gerrie also assisted on Domenic Masellis’ first goal as a Vee that opened the scoring 1:37 into the game. It was Masellis’ second game with the Vees after being acquired from the Langley Rivermen. He was brought in to fill the hole left by the injury to Seamus Donohue, who is out with an upper body injury for six to eight weeks.
Also scoring for the Vees was Demico Hannoun, Easton Brodzinski with two, Jost and Desi Burgart. Conway racked up four assists to extend his point streak to 20 games. Zachary Driscoll made 26 saves.
On Friday, Gerrie and the Vees will travel to West Kelowna to take on the Warriors and aim for their 21st win. On Saturday, they host the Cowichan Valley Capitals at 6 p.m. at the South Okanagan Events Centre.