Familarity helps Vande Velde on Oilers

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:23 PM ET

NASHVILLE Chris Vande Velde is not alone.

Having been called to make his NHL debut last week, the Edmonton Oilers rookie took comfort in getting an opportunity to play with familiar faces.

Its been a lot of fun and theres definitely an adjustment, Vande Velde said. Guys are stronger and more talented, but I think I held my own out there and Im on a pretty good line with (Teemu) Hartikainen and (Alexadre) Giroux. They are some familiar faces for me, I played with them with the Oklahoma City Barons. Its fun to see and I think weve adjusted well.

The trio, who had been playing with the Oilers AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City for most of the year, were brought up to fill in on an injury-depleted lineup.

The three are expected to be together again on Tuesday when the Oilers take on the Nashville Predators.

It definitely helps, being familiar, Vande Velde said. We have a little chemistry. It helps being with them half the year down there. If we could do it here, it would be great.

Selected by the Oilers in the fourth round 97th overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Vande Velde had 12 goals and four assists in 67 games with the Barons this season.

He had spent the previous four years with the University of North Dakota, registering 41 points in 42 games during his senior year.

That was definitely the goal, to get a few games up here, Vande Velde said. If it didnt happen this year, I was hoping for next year. Im glad it happened this year and Im grateful for the opportunity. I had a pretty good second half down there and getting the call up here, I like to think I deserved it.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/DerekVanDiest


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