Alex Ovechkin is Bryce Gervais’ favourite NHL player, but a quick glance at the newest Penticton Vee takes you back to Jaromir Jagr circa the ’90s.
The former Salmon Arm SilverBack has a mullet overflowing from his helmet. While young female fans may be mesmerized by the flow, his debut at the South Okanagan Events Centre was more impressive.
Gervais helped theVees down the Merritt Centennials 4-1. He scored two goals and an assist. The next day in Trail against the Smoke Eaters, Gervais tallied another two goals in an 8-5 Vees win. That’s six wins in a row for the Vees who remain ranked No. 3 in Canada.
The first period against the Centennials was a teaser of what Gervais could do. He engaged himself physically (check the video at www.pentictonwesternnews.com) and went to the front of the net, which nearly resulted in a goal. Not since his 2010 rookie season has he felt that nervous.
Being welcomed with open arms helped him feel comfortable.
“They just weren’t awkward in the dressing room,” said Gervais, who has developed a bromance with roomie Troy Stecher. “When some guy comes in, it can be fairly awkward. The guys were all really nice and just said I’m going to do great here. I just kept that in my head and tried my hardest.”
What Gervais loves about the Washington Capitals star is the emotion he brings to the game and tries to do the same. It was evident when he pumped his fist after his first goal that would be the eventual winner Saturday night. Gervais, whose Twitter handle is @Gervechkin, got his second goal parked in front of the crease and buried Steven Fogarty’s pass from behind the net. In the third period his actions impressed Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson.
“He had a chance at a hat trick and passes it off to his teammate (Joey Benik),” said Harbinson. “It shows that he’s a great character kid just like we expected.”
When asked what kind of player the Battlefords, Sask., native is to coach, Harbinson came back to his hat trick opportunity.
“He is an unbelievable team guy,” said Harbinson. “I can tell already just in the couple days that we have had him. When he has an open chance to shoot for himself for the hat trick in a 3-1 game and instead he passes it off to Benik, to me that just says he puts the team in front of himself. That’s why we went out and got him.”
Harbinson’s initial plan is to play the former Prince Albert Minto with Curtis Loik and Ryan Reilly. He eventually saw time with Mario Lucia, Connor Reilly and Fogarty. The addition of Gervais appears to be a very early Christmas present. Captain Logan Johnston makes his season debut during the BCHL’s 50th anniversary weekend on Nov. 26.
As shocked as Gervais was to get traded from Salmon Arm, he said he couldn’t have asked for a better team to come to.
“This team has crazy skill,” he said. “They can play defence, too, so hopefully we can go a long way this year.”
On Wednesday they travel to Vernon to take on the Vipers and hope to continue their (six-game )winning streak.
Ice chips: As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, teams will be fundraising to support their local KidSport chapter. Special events include a loose change drive whereby fans who bring a minimum 50 cent donation will receive a complimentary ticket voucher for any Vees home game in December. There will also be a Vees signed jersey to be won and other prizes.
Emanuel Sequeira is the sports editor of the Penticton Western News.