A return to Penticton proved good for Troy Stecher and Michael Garteig.
The former Penticton Vees showed well during the Canucks Young Stars Classic Sept. 16 to 19 for the Vancouver Canucks. Stecher piled up nine shots in his first game against the Edmonton Oilers, while collecting an assist against the Winnipeg Jets.
Stecher used the tournament to build confidence and become a better player. His goal was to keep on building on what the team was doing and impress management, which he did. Utica Comets coach Travis Green liked what he saw after two games saying the Richmond product looked really good.
“He was solid, smart. Made good plays, smart plays, played hard,” said Green. “He’s one of those players that wants to always be on the ice. Wants to practice and loves competing.”
While speaking to the media, Canucks GM Jim Benning said Stecher, listed at five-foot-eight, 190 pounds, has a shot at earning a roster spot in training camp.
“That’s why we go through training camp. Like with Ben Hutton, last year, he just kept getting better and better every day through camp,” said Benning. “Through the exhibition games, he ended up making our team and had a real good season. Troy is going to be the same way.”
Benning added Stecher is a player that will get games with the Canucks this season.
“He’s going to be a real good player for us moving forward,” he added. “He’s a real good skater. He gets up in the play. He has good offensive skill. Defensively, he’s a competitor. He’s not a big guy, but he competes hard defensively. The thing I like most about him is his competitiveness … he doesn’t back down to anybody.”
Stecher said he felt he played well in the first game.
“I just try to look at the positives and stick to what makes me successful,” he said.
Garteig earned a win over the Jets, then came in relief of Thatcher Demko against the Calgary Flames Monday in the third, making 17 saves in a 4-3 overtime loss. He was named third star. After his first game, Garteig said he felt comfortable.
“I think it’s pretty easy when I’ve played a lot of games in this rink. It felt like I was playing at home, which was pretty cool,” said Garteig, who posted a .938 save percentage with a 2.12 goals against average in 84 minutes, 54 seconds of action. “Obviously a little nerves at the start. Once you kind of get into the game, you’re into the game. It felt good to play hockey again.”
Garteig soaked in the experience at the tournament, especially when the Vees fans cheered him on.
“I think they kind of remembered who I was, who Troy was,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to get a little extra cheers here. I’ll take what I can get.”
Garteig said the tournament had a fast pace and skilled players. He felt he had to elevate his game.
Green liked what he saw from the Prince George native in the win over Winnipeg.
“He was really good. I liked him … I thought he looked really sharp,” said Green.
Canucks GM Jim Benning did too.
“We seen him play in the (National Collegiate Athletic Association Frozen Four) finals and in the big games he steps up to the occasion,” said Benning. “I thought last night he played well.”
Benning said that Garteig will see exhibition action during training camp along with Demko, while Markstrom is playing in the World Cup of Hockey.