Following a competitive training camp, including hard-fought intra-squad exhibition games, the Penticton Vees are down to 27 players.
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said the three-day training camp went well.
“I thought the games got better,” said Harbinson. “We saw good goaltending and in the end I thought it was a good way of evaluating the players and we were able to get down to a manageable number.”
The only surprise during camp, Harbinson joked, is that assistant coach Steve Cawley “has the bad hands that he had last year.”
With BCHL teams now allowed to keep 22 players, the Vees have a few extra bodies as they prepare for their first exhibition game Thursday evening against the West Kelowna Warriors. Harbinson said they will likely make decisions throughout the week as they work towards the final cuts. Harbinson was pleased with what he has seen from last year’s affiliate players Dexter Dancs, Nic Renyard, Alex Jewell and Jordan McCallum. He said they have a comfort zone from the experience they gained last season.
“They know what I’m about and playing for the Vees is all about,” said Harbinson. “It gives them a little edge. We’re going to expect a lot out of them.”
Recruits are performing as expected and arrived at camp fit.
One is Lou Nanne, grandson of former Minnesota North Stars general manager Louis Nanne.
The 18-year-old Edina Hornet grad liked how his camp went. He noticed the difference in speed and game flow compared to high school hockey.
“One thing I have found is all these kids are able to catch passes really well,” said Nanne. “Especially on their back hands, which was a big struggle back in Minnesota. Catching passes and taking it off people’s sticks.”
Not only did Nanne stand out from wearing his old Hornets equipment, but he scored a few goals, including an overtime winner for Team Blue. Nanne said scoring has given him confidence.
“Back in high school I didn’t have the greatest time getting points,” said Nanne, who was playing with Sam Mellor and Wade Murphy during camp and the first practice. “It wasn’t easy for me for some reason but I guess that is what I’m going to look for out here. The ability to get points and capitalize on my opportunities.”
Nanne has enjoyed playing with Mellor and Murphy, which could potentially form the ‘MNM’ line.
“They are both great players,” said Nanne, a 2012 Minnesota Wild draft pick. “I guess I was fortunate enough to be put with them right away. Hopefully I proved myself that I am able to stay there.”
While Nanne had developed a comfort level on the ice, it’s also happening away from it.
Upon arriving in Penticton, the first thing Nanne did was find a church he could attend, choosing Vineyard and Victory Church.
“Those are two places where I have found that I’m starting to like,” said Nanne, who posted on Twitter one day he “woke up to an outdoor Christian concert across the street. Yup, I love this place.”
Nanne does often post messages on Twitter relating to God, including this:
“People make mistakes, but they’re all washed away by God’s grace,” Nanne wrote. “Without forgiveness, there would be no heaven.”
He had struggles with being a hockey player and devoted to God. Nanne is also no longer ashamed about his beliefs.
Asked about what his teammates personalities are like, Nanne said he thought he would be the odd man out. That hasn’t been the case.
“I’ve been taken into their arms pretty well,” he said. “There’s different groups of people here but we all get along.”