It was not the start they wanted, but the Penticton Vees picked up two important points from divisional foe Merritt Centennials with a 4-1 win.
Newcomer Steen Cooper said he felt “butterflies standing on the blue line for the national anthem.” Fifteen seconds later, the puck was being fished out from behind Olivier Mantha in the South Okanagan Events Centre Wednesday.
The second period was a different story when the Vees (18-7-1-3) had their Teddy Bear toss night to support the Salvation Army.
“Our start wasn’t so good,” said Cooper. “I think we responded good after that. We battled hard near the end of the first. We came out in the second and buried a couple.”
Vees defenceman Paul Stoykewych put them on even terms with the Centennials as he was set up by Alexandre Coulombe and Brad McClure. Four minutes later and Jack Ramsey popped in the winner.
After not having scored in nine games, Ramsey is on a two-game goal scoring streak. Cody DePourcq made it 3-1, then Ramsey and Ben Dalpe set up Brett Beauvais for their fourth and final tally.
Ramsey, who doubled his season goal total to four in two games, said it was good to see some goals come and for the team to string wins together.
“It’s just good to see that coming before Christmas,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep my feet moving and do the right things. You do the right things and the goals will come.”
Back-to-back multiple-point games is giving Ramsey confidence and it’s something he hopes to carry into this weekend as they face the Centennials again Friday, this time in Merritt, then host Surrey at the SOEC Saturday. To leave the Nicola Valley Arena with two points, Ramsey said they want to be physical right from the start and do one other thing.
“They are going to have a lot of energy,” said Ramsey. “We just have to try to match that.”
Cooper, who made his Vees debut Wednesday after a three-team trade Dec. 1 that sent Clint Filbrandt and Matt Berry-Lamontagna to Cowichan for Cooper, said the game was fun to be part of.
“Good crowd (2,042) and teddy bear toss … it was a good night, especially to get a win,” he said.
Playing with McClure and Dalpe, he said they generated a few chances while hitting a few posts.
“I don’t think you could ask for more,” he said of his new linemates. “It’s good to be in between them. I think they can make me a better player. It’s a treat to play with those two.”
Cooper said that once the Vees got going offensively, the Centennials couldn’t get back in.
“We were in their zone for a majority of the game,” said Cooper. “I think after that first goal, it was kind of a wake up for us. We came at them hard.”
While Cooper has to wait at least another game to get his first point as a Vee, he said he hopes to bring offence with his playmaking ability. He also wants to be strong in his zone, while getting his nose dirty.
Getting dealt from his hometown team was unexpected, but he’s happy about where he landed.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be here,” said Cooper, whose bedroom back home is decorated in Philadelphia Flyers colours. “It was kind of scary knowing that you could be traded. You never know where you are going to go. To end up here is something pretty special.”