Vees rookie avoids culture shock in Penticton

Most kids use their driveway to play around and slap their Stanley Cup- winning goal into the net.

Most kids use their driveway to play around and slap their Stanley Cup- winning goal into the net.

James Polk’s playground was a hallway in his family’s Manhattan apartment complex.Unfortunately for their neighbours, Polk’s shot didn’t always hit the target.

“In our building they get mad at me because I have a net that I’m not supposed to have,” said the Penticton Vees rookie. “We get a lot of neighbors complaining whenever I miss the net. I don’t know how long that is going to last for.”

Polks mother Anne reports that the building now has cameras. When the Polks lived in upstate New York, he damaged the basement.

“He shot a puck through the wall,” said Anne with a laugh. “At the time I wasn’t too happy about it. I just wish I had taken pictures of it. That was funny.”

Polk has loved living in Manhattan because there’s no shortage of things to do. One of his favourite memories is from playing hockey at Chelsea Piers, located near the Hudson River.

“It has a glass area and you could look out and see the whole city, pretty much,” said Polk, who collected two assists to help the Vees defeat the Nanaimo Clippers 5-3 in BCHL action on Saturday. “It’s on top of a three or four-storey building. It’s just ridiculous. Most of the time you’re not paying attention to the game, but outside.”

Born in Cody, Wyo., Polk moved with his family to Manhattan at age eight. While Manhattan has many things, one of the few things the city is short on are hockey rinks.

“I had to actually go outside the city to do it because there is only one rink in New York,” said Polk, whose folks drove him an hour and 20 minutes so he could play for the Brewster Bulldogs in Brewster, NY. The 18-year-old started playing hockey in Cody when neighbours who asked him to play on the pond.

After seven years in Manhattan, Polk moved to Fairbault, Minn. at 15 to play at Shattuck’s St. Mary’s High School for four years. That’s where he met close friend and Rangers rookie Derek Stepan, who now plays for Polk’s favourite team.

“I love them. I follow them every day,” said Polk. “He’s (Stepan) third on the team in scoring. That’s awesome. He’s such a nice guy and didn’t let it get to his head. I really appreciate him.”

Now living in the Okanagan and playing in the BCHL, Polk hasn’t experienced culture shock because of his time in Minnesota.

“It’s (Manhattan) definitely different than Penticton for sure,” said Polk, who returned to Manhattan to spend Christmas with his family. “I feel the difference. A lot more laid back here for sure. Everyone is for themselves over there (in Manhattan). Here there is a lot more friendly people. People always saying hello. It’s a lot different.”

Polk is surprised by the friendliness of Pentictonites because he’s used to New Yorkers never saying anything.

“Everyone had their head down going to work,” he said. “It’s a lot different but it’s nice also. I like it. It gives you a different perspective on life. I love it here.”

Living in Fairbault, Minn. after growing up in Manhattan helped Penticton Vees rookie forward James Polk avoid culture shock in the Peach City.

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