Penticton Vees rookie Jacob Kamps laughed when asked if he had ever played three games in three days.
This weekend will be a new experience for the Pickering Ont., native who is used to games being spread out in high school hockey.
“It’s going to be something different for me for sure,” said Kamps. “It’s going to be a bit of a grind. It’s definitely going to be hard to put together some wins. We’re hopefully going to have the energy. We have been working hard in practice. I think we should be good.”
The Vees kick off their BCHL road trip on the Sunshine Coast against the Powell River Kings Friday, then head to the Weyerhaeuser Arena in Alberni Valley on Saturday, before winding up the three-game journey with an afternoon match against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. The Kings are looking for their first win of the season after losing three straight.
“I have heard they have a lot of skill. A pretty good amount of size,” said Kamps, who brings his own size to the table with a six-foot-three, 210-pound frame. “Definitely a good test for us. They are going to want to be going after us.”
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson expects the Kings to be hungry.
“They are a good team. Everybody watched in the pre-season. Scouts have watched and think they are going to be a great team,” he said. “They had a tough road trip, but they are always tough at home. All that did was probably give them more motivation to be ready for us on Friday.”
Preparation this week focused on systems play in all three zones. Harbinson said they still have a ways to go with how they want to play. He is pleased with how the rookies are picking up the systems and it is reaching the point where they are just playing. In another month, Harbinson believes everything will be seamless.
Off the ice, Kamps looks forward to bonding with his teammates during the trip. He said they are already becoming close, but feels this trip will be great for them. Kamps and the rest of the Vees will be joined by new addition Kenny Johnson, brother of NHL blue liner Jack Johnson. With defenceman Sam Rossini lost for the season with a torn ACL following the hit he took from Vernon Viper captain Riley Brandt in the pre-season, the Vees searched for the right person to take Rossini’s spot.
“We had a spot open on our back end with the injury to Sam Rossini, and Kenny is the piece we were looking for,” Harbinson said in a team statement. “He’s a big body that plays a heavy game and he’s a sound player on both sides of the puck.”
Johnson, 18, spent the last four years at the prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, Minn. Johnson spent the last two seasons playing for the school’s prep team where he appeared in 91 games, picking up 10 goals and 53 points. The six-foot-three, 220-pound blueliner is committed to the University of Michigan. Johnson will wear 28.
To get their roster number down, the Vees sent defenceman Cory Babichuk and forward Desi Burgart to the Surrey Eagles for future considerations. Chris Klack, a five-foot-11, 170-pound forward from Georgetown, Ont., was added to the roster. Klack is committed to Clarkson University for 2017-18. Forward Turner Ripplinger is out two weeks with a lower body injury.
Vees notes: An organization record has been set as the club hit the 1,500 mark for season tickets.
“It’s exciting to see our community rally around the team, especially this year being a big one with us hosting the Western Canada Cup,” said Harbinson in team statement. “We truly believe we have some of the best fans in junior hockey, and the record number of season tickets is yet just another example of that.”
Season ticket holder’s first chance to pick up their tickets is on Sept. 28 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the SOEC during a party sponsored by IGA Penticton and Boyd Autobody. Fans can mingle with players and enjoy music and a hotdog BBQ (while supplies last).