On Friday night, friendships with former teammates from the Salmon Arm SilverBacks will be pushed aside for the Penticton Vees.
Forward Cam Amantea said there is no talking to them before the game.
“It’s kind of all business when we play each other,” said Amantea, who took a quick breather from an after-practice workout. “Mitch Ferguson is from Calgary too, so we’d see each other a couple of times in the summer. When we’re out there, there’s no friends.”
There might be some chirping during the game, but Amantea said it’s fun to play against friends.
Along with Ferguson, the 4-4-0-1 SilverBacks also have former Vees Evan Anderson, Alex Jewell and the recently acquired Max Becker. Amantea said playing in Salmon Arm’s Shaw Centre is always tough, plus the SilverBacks have won their last two games.
“Should be exciting. Salmon Arm is a big opponent,” said Amantea. “We always want to be top in our division. Those games, it’s easy for everyone to get up for because we play them so much, there’s that rivalry.”
Michael Hengen, the Vees assistant coach who works with defenceman, said the SilverBacks have done a good job of bringing back the tough environment to play in.
“Their top line is skilled. They have two good, big goalies,” said Hengen. “When they are on, they are as good as anybody else.”
He said the key will be looking at the right things during pre-scouting, then going over it with the players so they can execute.
Vees rookie forward Jack Ramsey expects the SilverBacks to be tough.
“Salmon Arm is pretty physical,” he said. “We are trying to keep a high level of energy out there. Just forecheck as hard as we can out there.”
Their Saturday night tilt is against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, the last place team in the Island Division with a 1-7-1 record. The two teams opened the season during the BCHL Showcase, with the Vees earning a 3-2 win that started the Bulldogs’ seven-game slide. The Bulldogs snapped the losing skid when they tied the Victoria Grizzlies on Sept. 27 and edged the Langley Rivermen 4-3 on Sept. 28. The Bulldogs then made some deals picking up Harlan Orr, a forward from the SilverBacks on Sept. 25. They also picked up Darian Henry from the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats and on Oct. 1, they dealt defenceman Jared Wilson to the Vernon Vipers for forward Craig Martin.
“They made some trades recently and brought in some good guys,” said Amantea. “It seems like they are getting on a roll.”
Not playing the Bulldogs very much, Amantea said they want to put on a show for their fans. Hengen expects the Vees to get a tough test from the Bulldogs as teams bring their best for Interior Division opponents.
“They know that it’s their best chance to kind of measure themselves up for the rest of the season,” said Hengen. “We get every teams best.”
Vees notes: Rookie forward Jack Ramsey said it was a privilege to be asked to play in the second annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Pittsburgh on Sept. 26. Ramsey said the pace amazed him.
“It was probably the fastest game I ever played in. Just seeing specific guys out there. Their hands and what each player brings is pretty cool.” Ramsey’s team lost 5-2 and he said he felt he played an ok game. “I didn’t do anything too special. I thought I kept along with the pace pretty well.”
Former Vee Zac Dalpe was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday along with Jeremy Welsh for Kellan Tochkin and a fourth round draft pick in 2014. The Canucks made the announcement on their website that morning. Dalpe’s brother Ben, who plays for the Vees, tweeted, “Wow pretty crazy news, brother traded to his childhood team the Vancouver Canucks!!!”
“I’m excited for the fresh start,” said Dalpe on the Canucks website. “Obviously stuff didn’t go as well in Carolina, but it’s a change of scenery and there’s no better way to come to the team I grew up adoring and watching, I was a big Vancouver Canucks fan growing up, so it’s good.”
Dalpe lists Pavel Bure and Markus Naslund as his favourite Canucks.