Colton Poolman sported a big grin when asked about his newest hockey memento.
After scoring his first career junior A goal in 87 games, his 31st with the Penticton Vees, equipment helper Don Cameron handed over a personalized puck plaque to the blueliner.
“Oh God I love it,” said Poolman, who next fall will play Division 1 hockey with his brother Tucker, a Winnipeg Jets draft pick, with the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. “I saw him bringing it to me and my eyes just lit up. I’m keeping this thing. This is going up in the room. It was pretty cool. Nice of him to do that for me.”
That joins the collection which includes the puck from his first high school goal and a few trophies. Poolmans goal gave the Vees a 2-1 lead in a match that finished 4-4 on Dec. 5.
After playing high school hockey at East Grand Forks High in Minnesota, Poolman played 57 games in the USHL with the Fargo Force, registering 10 assists. Poolman said it was more of a relief to get his first goal.
“I was still excited. I didn’t know what to really do,” he said. “I just kind of went to the guy (Nicholas Jones) who passed to me and thanked him because I was just really relieved more than anything.”
Cameron decided to present Poolman, who turns 20 this Friday, with the plaque. Cameron said that most guys get a taped puck with the date and name of the opponent written on it as a keepsake.
“I decided to do a bigger keepsake for him. All the guys got a howl out of it,” said Cameron. “I like doing different things like that. Just goofy things to lighten things up a bit.”
The six-foot, 180-pound defenceman feels like the scoring chances are coming and that he can provide that element for the Vees.
“I’m really coming into my own offensive skill set,” said Poolman, who has 24 assists.
Poolman has learned a lot from playing with potential first round NHL pick Dante Fabbro.
“He makes you look good that’s for sure,” said Poolman of Fabbro. “He makes so many plays out there that I don’t even see it. He will make a great pass and make you look really good. He will get you points out there. I shouldn’t have as many points as I do have. I have it because of Fabbro and Jost and guys like that.”
He has also enjoyed playing with a recent partner, rookie Griffin Mendel, who he said can make plays and uses his six-foot-two, 190-pound frame.
“It’s been fun playing with him. I think we’re starting to get used to each other,” said Poolman.
With the absence of Fabbro, as well as Gabe Bast and Seamus Donohue Poolman feels he has stepped up. On Saturday, Poolman was key in the Vees’ 4-3 double overtime victory goal against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. He skated towards the goal and provided a screen as Scott Conway snapped the winner.
“I was trying to screen, but I didn’t think he was going to go through my legs,” said Poolman. “Having him shoot it between my legs looked pretty cool. Thank goodness it didn’t go too high. I was shocked it went through my legs.”