Vees acquire forward after losing Blanchard to injury

Vees get forward from Smokies, while losing Blanchard for two months

CAM AMANTEA (74) and the Penticton Vees lost to the Nanaimo Clippers 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 9. The Vees will get a second crack at the Clippers at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Saturday.

Brendan Lamont is excited to make his home debut for the Penticton Vees.

Acquired Tuesday evening from the Trail Smoke Eaters for future considerations, Lamont has played in the South Okanagan Events Centre as a member of the Merritt Centennials, where he played for two seasons, scoring 12 goals and collecting 25 assists.

I always loved playing here. It was a cool atmosphere, always a lot of people,” said Lamont, who is from Langley. “Really looking forward to that first game.”

The Vees picked up Lamont after losing Josh Blanchard to a lower-body injury that has placed him on the 60-day injured reserve. Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson said in a team statement that Lamont fits nicely in their line-up.

“We have played a lot of hard fought battles against Brendan over the past few seasons; he brings experience, speed and a relentless work ethic.”

“Brendan had asked to be a bit closer to home and we were willing to accommodate his request,” said Smoke Eaters coach-GM Nick Deschenes on the team’s website.

Lamont said he enjoyed his time in Trail, calling the Smoke Eaters a classy organization, but said it was far from home.

I’m really excited about the opportunity,” said Lamont, who learned of his trade Tuesday evening.

Lamont hopes to contribute to the Vees with speed, energy and tenacity. He also said he hopes to contribute offensively. During his first practice on Wednesday, he lined up with Cody DePourcq and Travis Blanleil.

“I think we had some good chemistry early on,” said Lamont, who will play his first Vees game against the Warriors in West Kelowna Friday night. “It’s going to be a good line.”

In preparation for their tilt against the Warriors, one of the things the Vees worked on was shot blocking using sponge pucks. Forward Cam Amantea said it’s an area of their game they have kind of been lacking. During their last road trip that took them to Powell River, Nanaimo and Alberni Valley, Amantea said they had goals scored from shots getting through.

If we clean that up, our D-zone is going to be pretty good,” said Amantea.

The team was using sponge pucks because as Amantea said, it’s easier and gives guys confidence.

“Confidence is obviously a huge thing,” he said. “Some guys are timid to get hit by the puck in certain spots. This helps just get your confidence up. Kind of teach you the fundamentals of getting in the lane.”

When facing the Warriors, Vees defenceman Chris Rygus said they know each time they face a division rival, “ it’s going to be just like playoff hockey.”

“We have to treat road games like we’re playing at home,” he said.

The Vees’ rematch with the Nanaimo Clippers Saturday is about payback. The Vees weren’t happy about losing 3-2 in overtime.

“We definitely deserved a win for 40 minutes of that game,” said Rygus. “We just didn’t bare down in the third period. The good thing about hockey is you get a chance to redeem yourself.”

Vees notes: NHL Central Scouting released their preliminary player rankings ahead of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and nine BCHL players are named among the 20 Canadian Junior Hockey League players. All CJHL players were listed as C grade prospects, meaning they would likely be chosen in the fourth round or lower.

The Vees have three in defenceman Alexandre Coulombe, forward Jack Ramsey and goalie Hunter Miska. Other BCHL players include, Vernon’s Mason Blacklock and Demico Hannoun, Salmon Arm’s Alex Gillies, Powell River’s Luke Ripley, Adam Rockwood of Coquitlam  and Jeff Wight of Merritt.