|Penticton Vees captain Brad McClure, pictured firing a shot on goal during Saturday's 9-4 win over Chilliwack at the SOEC, earned B.C. Hockey Player of the Week honours with five goals and eight points in three games.|
Penticton acquired 18-year-old playmaking centre Steen Cooper from the Cowichan Valley Capitals for D Clint Filbrandt and the rights to D Matt Berry-Lamontagna in a deal consummated just before the Dec. 1 roster deadline.
"We needed a centre â€¦ we've got too many wingers playing centre," said Vees president, GM and head coach Fred Harbinson. "He's a real good playmaker, a high-compete guy, and someone we'll have for next year as well."
The five-foot-nine, 170-pound Cooper joins a growing list of Vees committed to Minnesota State University Mankato, though he won't be going until 2015-16.
Cooper will step into a pivotal spot right away, centering a line with captain, co-BCHL goalscoring leader and BCHL player of the week Brad McClure. Ben Dalpe, who had been the centre on the line, will move to the wing.
Anthony Conti will find a home on one of the other lines as the Vees mix and match in practice ahead of Wednesday's home game against the Merritt Centennials.
Cooper, in his third year in the league - all with his hometown team in Cowichan - was third in team scoring with three goals and 18 points. He has 18 goals, 68 points and 47 penalty minutes in 131 BCHL games and recently won a bronze medal with Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in Nova Scotia.
Filbrandt, 18, had an assist and seven PIM in nine games for the Vees. Berry-Lamontagna was acquired earlier in the weekend from Coquitlam for future considerations.
The Vees and other Junior A teams had to declare rosters of players and open player cards adding up to 25 by Dec. 1. The Vees declared 22 players and three cards.
But the Vees still ended up short of forwards. Josh Blanchard is out indefinitely (lower-body injury and mononeucleosis) and Cam Amantea (upper-body) will definitely miss the Merritt game on Wednesday and possibly longer.
Even with Cooper, the Vees will only have 11 forwards available and Harbinson said they will either dress seven defencemen or call up an affiliated forward from either Junior B or midget.
Though they have the three open cards, Harbinson said the Vees are not actively pursuing any other players before the Jan. 10 trade deadline.
"We like this group, we're not disappointed with our players at all," said Harbinson, noting he can't predict what might happen in the next five weeks. "We're a point out of first place in our division with two games in hand (on Vernon). We'll keep working everyday to improve."
McClure, meanwhile, earned Player of the Week honours after bagging five goals and eight points in three games. McClure is second in the BCHL with 41 points and the co-leader in goals with 22.
The 20-year-old was also named the Grant King's Vees Player of the Month for November after garnering 12 goals and 20 points in 11 contests.
ICE CHIPS: Cooper, wearing jersey No. 17, will make his Vees debut Wednesday versus Merritt in the annual Teddy Bear Toss night at the SOEC. Tickets for the game are just $5 and available at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC â€¦ Amantea, put back on a Junior-A card before the Dec. 1 deadline, could still miss the return trip to Merritt on Friday and a home game against Surrey on Saturday â€¦ Harbinson hasn't decided on his goaltender for Wednesday. Olivier Mantha was to start on Saturday against Chilliwack but came down with the flu and is day-to-day. Hunter Miska has started the last four games, but was replaced by Mantha in the first period of Friday's 5-4 loss to Langley.