The Penticton Vees got more experienced through a pair of acquisitions over the weekend aimed at making them a force in the Western Canada Cup.
First on Oct. 28 Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson acquired forward Matt Gosiewski from the Minnesota Magicians of the North America Hockey League for future considerations. That move was followed by Harbinson trading rookie forward Jacob Kamps to the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for future considerations. Harbinson said that Kamps, a great kid and teammate, dropped on the team’s depth chart. He scored a goal and had three points in 12 games.
“When we acquired Matt Gosiewski, he gave us a more experienced, big player (six-foot-four, 215 pounds) that can play at centre,” said Harbinson. “Obviously with us hosting the Western Canada Cup this year, we’re trying to get as much experience as possible. Jake played in prep school last year, but with no junior experience. This will give him an opportunity to still play in a great program and who knows, maybe we will see him down the line. For us, it allows us to add a very experienced player.”
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On Oct. 29, the Vees picked up WHL forward Duncan Campbell from the Brandon Wheat Kings. Since he was on their Canadian Hockey League list, they didn’t have to give anything up after Campbell was released by his hometown team.
Gosiewski played his first game as a Vee in a 4-1 loss to the Wenatchee Wild on Oct. 29.
“It felt pretty good, it was the first time I had skated in a little bit, so it took me a little bit to get things going, but I thought I played well,” he said. “It was tough to get the loss but it was good to get out there.”
Gosiewski did have a chance against the Wild, but was robbed by Anthony Yamnitsky, who made a pad save.
Prior to being acquired by the Vees, Gosiewski was traded to Minnesota from the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the United States Hockey League. Gosiewski collected seven goals and 13 points in 44 games with the RoughRiders.
Gosiewski’s season wasn’t going well to start. Playing for the RoughRiders last year, they struggled to get wins and this year are winless in 11 games. He said it was a tough place to play, especially with no wins and a low morale.
“I’m glad I am here now,” said Gosiewski, who planned on driving, until he Googled Penticton and saw it was a 25-hour drive and “I was like no way.”
“I hopped on the first flight out here. I knew a little bit about the team because they have a pretty good history with their record but other than that I didn’t really know a lot about the BCHL, but I am glad I am here,” he said. “As soon as they knocked on my door I told my family and agent I wanted to be there right away.
“Part of the reason I wanted to come here is because I love winning and starting the season off poorly there it got to me,” Gosiewski continued “I wanted to go to a place where I knew I could win and play a role in that. I’m really looking forward to this season.”
Along with adding depth, Gosiewski will play hard, while trying to produce.
“I am a power forward, more or less, but when the puck is on my stick I like to make plays,” said Gosiewski, who spent a few weekends with the U17 U.S. team.
Harbinson spoke highly of Campbell.
“He’s a heart and soul player that played on their top checking line last year right through to the Memorial Cup,” said Harbinson. “Was a plus-seven going against the top teams. Top player in the CHL.”
Campbell is six-foot-three, 190 pounds according to brandonwheatkings.com. In 148 career WHL regular season games, all with the Wheat Kings, Campbell had 22 goals and 43 points. He added another two goals and 11 points in 38 career playoff games. Harbinson said the Wheat Kings let him go because they received a player back from the New York Rangers and can only carry three 20-year-olds.
“This looks like a great organization with a top-of-the-line facility, great coaching staff and all the guys have been super friendly,” said Campbell, who attended a Okanagan Hockey camp when he was 15.
Campbell said it’s unfortunate he had to leave Brandon, but sees this as a new and good opportunity.
“I am really excited to be here and see what it is like to live in B.C., away from home and hopefully win a championship,” he said. “It was a special time to be able to play my whole career there but it is time for a new chapter in my life.”
In playing on the Wheat Kings best checking line, Campbell said he likes those situations and big roles.
Will he take the top BCHL guys to task?
“We will see how it pans out and what the coaches have in store for me,” said Campbell. “I am a hard-working guy who leads by example. I wear my heart on my sleeve and just do everything for my teammates.”