Rookie Grant Cruikshank led all Penticton Vees scorers with six goals during the regular season against the Vernon Vipers. Cruikshank hopes to continue his offensive ways against the Vipers in the BCHL’s Interior Division Final. Mark Brett/Western News

Vees Cruikshank likes facing Vipers

Grant Cruikshank burned BCHL goalies 32 times in 57 regular season games.

Grant Cruikshank burned BCHL goalies 32 times in 57 regular season games.

The Penticton Vees rookie had Vernon Viper goalies shoveling pucks from their net six times while the red light was on. That is the Vees’ next opponent in the third round.

When questioned about his offensive acumen against the old rival, the future University of Wisconsin Badger credits it to two things: his linemates and the way things roll.

“You know sometimes that certain players have success against certain teams and you know sometimes it’s just the way you’re playing that night,” said Cruikshank. “Obviously with it being Vernon, they are easy games to get up for. Your blood is running high and you are feeling great every time. I think it’s kind of a mix of things and you know sometimes it’s just the way the puck bounces your way … the way your linemates are playing as well.”

Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson said the reason he scored so much is Cruikshank has a good shot. Harbinson said Cruikshank was “snake bit” against the Centennials, in which he was held to a goal.

“I thought he looked really good in Game 7,” said Harbinson. “We need all our guys, not just Grant, we need everybody to get after it. It’s always a big game with them. He showed well in Game 7. That tells me he’s a big game player. He will be ready for this series.”

Cruikshank felt he played really well agianst the Vipers. He and other Vees rookies are filled in quickly about the significance of the rivalry against the Vipers.

“We kind of learn from the second you come here to Penticton that you don’t like Vernon and you play like it,” said Cruikshank, adding that is a fun environment to play in.

“There’s a lot of energy in the building, you have a lot of energy inside you,” said Cruikshank, listed at five-foot-11, 180 pounds. “Playing with that energy, it’s pretty easy to get in the game early and feel great about your game. You know, play with how you are successful.”

Possessing a great shot isn’t the only thing that makes Cruikshank successful. So does his blazing speed, which he credits to his parents Dave Cruikshank and Bonnie Blair. His father was a four-time member of the U.S. Olympic speed skating team, as was his mom, who won six medals (five gold) in four Winter Games.

“He really was the one that kind of just helped me with the rules of skating and how to go fast and how train myself to be a great skater and how to play with pace,” said Cruikshank, whose father works with the L.A. Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars. “Just play fast and skate like the wind.”

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