The Penticton Vees now have the play-making centre they have long coveted.
The Vees were involved in a three-team trade Dec. 1 to land Steen Cooper from the Cowichan Valley Capitals for Clint Filbrandt and Matt Berry-Lamontagna.
The Vees initially acquired Berry-Lamontagna from the Coquitlam Express for future considerations.
Cooper, 18, is in his third season in the BCHL, all with his hometown Capitals. Through 27 games, Cooper has three goals and 18 points and was third in team scoring.
The Duncan native recently won a bronze medal with Team Canada West at the 2013 World Junior A Challenge in Yarmouth, N.S. Last season Cooper set career highs with 10 goals and 27 points in 43 games.
Cooper is committed to Minnesota State University Mankato for the 2015-16 season.
Vees general manager Fred Harbinson said Cooper will fill a need up front.
“He competes extremely hard and brings plenty of experience despite being 18 and will be a go-to player for us next year as well,” said Harbinson in a team statement.
Vees captain Brad McClure, who was named the BCHL’s Player of the Week ending Dec 1, said getting Cooper is a good addition.
“He’s been in the league for a while. He’s got some experience and I think that’s huge for our team,” said McClure. “It adds more depth. He will be a huge centre-piece.”
Cooper posted a message on Twitter thanking the Capitals for everything during that last three years.
“Excited and honoured to be joining the @PentictonVees,” he wrote.
Cooper will make his Vees debut on Wednesday as the Vees host the Merritt Centennials in the South Okanagan Events Centre in the first of a home-and-home matchup. McClure said they are two huge games.
“They are another hard working team. I think we know that going in,” said McClure. “I think the hardest working team is going to come out on top. That’s what we got to be.”
The Vees (17-7-1-3) are three points ahead of the Centennials (16-11-2-1) in the Interior Division. After losing 5-4 to the Langley Rivermen Friday, the Vees bounced back to earn a 9-4 win against the Chilliwack Chiefs Saturday.
“That was a huge win. I thought all four lines contributed well,” said McClure, who scored two goals.
“I think we were a bit bitter (after the loss to the Rivermen). I think we took some energy into Saturday.”
In that game, several Vees enjoyed multi-point games, including Travis Blanleil, Anthony Conti and Paul Stoykewych with two assists, Riley Alferd and Jake Ahlgren with a goal and two assists, and Cody DePourcq with two goals.
Vees notes: McClure said it’s a big honour to be named player of the week. He appreciates the recognition and said he is always trying to find another level with his play.
“You can never be satisfied at the level you are playing. I think that’s what I’m trying to strive for. I always want to lead the team the best way I can.” McClure led all BCHL scorers last week with five goals and eight points in three games.
Teddy Bear toss night will be on Wicked Wednesday against the Merritt Centennials.
Tickets are just $5 and are available at the Valley first Box Office (at the SOEC).
Defenceman Blake Butzow has played in the last five games after recovering from meningitis and feels good about his play.
Filbrandt, 18, played nine games for the Vees picking up one assist from the blueline to go along with seven penalty-minutes.