Dubbed Bam Bam by Penticton Vees assistant coach Steve Cawley, Carter Rigby has been a welcome addition.
Rigby was an affiliate player with the Vees until becoming a full-time member with the club last weekend. His home debut came in a 6-0 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters.
“It’s a great feeling playing at home and playing for the team I’ve grown up watching,” said Rigby. “Just to play junior A at 16 is a great accomplishment but I’m not going to take that for granted and just work my butt off here.”
At six-feet and 210 pounds, Rigby brings more size to the Vees and isn’t afraid to use it, especially in practice. During Monday’s practice, he didn’t hesitate to battle hard with teammates. Johnson said any kid that competes the way Rigby does during practice they welcome with open arms.
“We need guys to push other guys in practice,” said Johnson. “Carter is definitely a kid who does that. He is a great kid. He is a good team guy. All the guys seem to like him so far. On the ice he brings a lot of energy. Plays with a lot of old fashion grit.”
Rigby felt some nerves playing in the SOEC for the first time but said it was fine aside from the loss. He credited his time in Osoyoos with the Coyotes for helping get the opportunity with the Vees. Rigby said the way he worked hard and played with and without the puck did plenty for his confidence as he scored 22 goals and 43 points in 26 games in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
“That was just a stepping stone and now I’m just glad to be here,” he said. “It’s definitely a lot different than the junior B level. It’s a pace if not too fast here everything is a lot crisper, harder, bigger bodies.”
Rigby started the season with the Prince George Cougars in the WHL but that stint lasted just three games. When asked what happened there, Rigby said some things weren’t working out.
“I don’t know if it was a good fit,” said Rigby, who joined the Coyotes later. “I’m not going to worry too much about that. I have been answering a lot of questions about that. I’m not dwelling on the past and looking back. I’m just looking forward right now.”
While Rigby didn’t find himself on the scoresheet in the Vees’ 3-2 loss to the Vipers, he still contributed to an effort, where the Vees gave the Vipers a good fight with seven regulars out of the lineup. On Friday, the Vees were without Garrett Milan, Mark MacMillan and Derik Johnson, who also didn’t play Saturday.
“I’m real proud of the guys that played tonight,” Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson told the Vernon Morning Star. “It was a gutsy performance. We hit two crossbars. They hit one off a leg and one off the back-end boards.”
Harbinson felt the Vees affiliate players were “outstanding.”
“It’s a great environment for them to come in and play,” said Harbinson.
One on those was Grant Nicholson, who plays with KIJHL Penticton Lakers and is son of Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of Hockey Canada. Nicholson scored his first BCHL goal.
“It’s nice,” said Nicholson of his goal. “The first one is out of the way. (Tyler) Hlookoff just came down, shot it and it just went in off my shin pad. A lucky goal. Any kind are good.”
The Vees are now on a four-game losing skid following the loss to Vernon in Vernon. Written with files from the Vernon Morning Star.
Mountain, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, is ecstatic about where he will continue his hockey career
“It’s an unbelievable place to play hockey,” said Mountain. “I’ve seen a game there before and I’ve played in that rink. From a hockey standpoint it’s unbelievable – It’s Hockey East. I’ve dreamed about playing in that league since I was a kid. They’ve got a great following and Burlington is a great city to study in and to play hockey in. It’s a great school
academically as well.”