By Nick Patterson Herald writer
For Jari Erricson, spending the weekend in the visitors locker room at Comcast Arena was an unusual feeling.
“It is a bit different being on the other side of the locker room,” said Erricson, who was traded by the Everett Silvertips to the Prince George Cougars during the offseason. “But it’s good to see the guys again.”
For Erricson it was a quick return to Everett as the Cougars opened the season with two games at Comcast Arena the past weekend. Erricson, an 18-year-old winger who hails from Prince George, was Everett’s second-round pick in the 2009 bantam draft and spent the previous two seasons with the Tips, tallying 13 goals and 20 assists in 129 games.
However, Erricson was traded to Prince George during this year’s bantam draft in a deal that involved four draft picks and the rights to winger Jujhar Khaira, who chose not to report to Everett.
“I was a bit surprised, I didn’t see it coming,” was Erricson’s initial reaction to the trade. “But I’ve adjusted to it and it is what it is, you just have to deal with it. I think it being my hometown I got traded to, it makes it easier.
“It’s cool playing for my hometown team,” Erricson added. “I’m going to be with family and friends, I’m living with my family throughout the year, and my brothers, sisters and parents all like that, so it will be good.”
Erricson is hoping the switch to the Cougars will help spark his game. Erricson looked like a future impact player his rookie season with the Tips. However, as a 17-year-old he didn’t take the kind of step forward the Tips were hoping.
“Things have been good so far with the Cougars,” Erricson said. “We have a good group of guys in there and I think we should have a good year this year.
“I think I’ve adjusted and I’ve matured a lot,” Erricson added. “I’m a lot bigger and stronger this year and I think I’ll have a better season than I had in previous years.”
So far the Cougars like what they’ve seen. Though Erricson didn’t have any points during the past weekend’s two games, he created several dangerous moments.
“He’s been really good,” Prince George coach Dean Clark said. “Jari has some great speed and he did some really good things (Saturday) night — I think his other two linemates weren’t as sharp. What Jari brings is a good element of speed, our speed has improved a lot this year.”
Erricson’s weekend ended on a controversial note. During the second period of Sunday’s 7-6 shootout victory over Everett, Erricson was ejected for a checking-to-the-head major penalty when he elbowed Manraj Hayer’s head into the glass at high speed. Hayer left the game, but later returned. Erricson declined to comment on the incident.
Around the WHL
Kamloops has lost last year’s leading scorer, 20-year-old left wing Brendan Ranford, at least temporarily to the professional ranks. Ranford, who became a free agent when the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers decided not to sign him during the summer, is trying out with the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs. … Regina acquired 19-year-old defenseman Adam Rossignol from Swift Current in exchange for a 12th-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. Rossignol had been cut by the Broncos. … Eighteen-year-old Vancouver forward Matt Bellerive left the team and requested a trade. He was subsequently shipped to Red Deer in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft. … Portland’s Nic Petan was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 17-year-old forward had four goals and four assists as the Winterhawks went 2-1.
Points — Nic Petan (Portland) 8; goals — Petan 4; assists — Troy Rutkowski (Portland) 6; penalty minutes — Kale Kessy (Medicine Hat) 17; wins — several tied with 2; goals against average — Dawson MacAuley (Medicine Hat) 1.00; save percentage — MacAuley .958.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.