With a 6-3 win over the Brooks Bandits on the long weekend, the Penticton Vees have swept through the pre-season undefeated.
Penticton now looks to keep their momentum and start off the regular season on Sept. 6 with a game against the Trail Smoke Eaters in Trail.
“I think we’re going in[to the season] real well. We got out of the pre-season healthy,” said Vees head coach Fred Harbinson. “Now we’ve got three real tough weeks ahead of us. Going to Trail for two, then Merritt, Prince George, and then going to the island, Cowichan and Nanaimo. So it’s going to be a gauntlet over the next three weeks.”
Friday and Saturday saw the Vees face off against the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits on the home ice of the South Okanagan Events Centre. Friday’s game saw excellent penalty killing from the Vees helping them earn a 5-2 victory.
Saturday, the Vees special teams got their chance to shine, picking up three of their six goals on the power play. Liam Malmquist, new this season, scored the first goal for the team on the power play, off assists from veterans Connor Hutchison and captain David Silye.
The Vees offence grew as the preseason went on, starting with a 2-1 win over the West Kelowna Warriors on Aug. 21. Their second match against the Warriors on Aug. 28 saw a final score of 9-1, a performance they built on going into their matchup against the Bandits.
“We saw a little bit of different things every night, and this last weekend was a great test, because we’ve got a heck of a hockey club over there, the defending National Champs,” Harbinson said.
“They do an outstanding job over there. Not saying that the other jobs were easier, but these two here, there was kind of a playoff feel to them, because there’s a bit of bragging rights between the two leagues.”
The Vees have a number of new faces on the team this year, and they are already making an impact on the scoresheets. Jay O’Brien led the team in points coming out of the preseason, with three goals and six assists. Liam Malmquist picked up two goals and four assists, while Vincent Nardone and Tristan Amonte both took home four points off the pre-season.
The veterans weren’t far behind, with captain David Silye and Lukas Sillinger both leading the team for goals with four apiece. The team’s mix of old and new players has so far worked out well for them, with their sweep of the pre-season complete.
Now, with the regular season about to begin, and with games where the points matter more, the Vees will be tested.
“We’ll have our moments I’m sure over the next little bit where we’ll have some adversity and we’ll have to fight through that, but so far so good,” Harbinson said.
“I think we’re gelling real well. I think our staff, we’ve got new staff too, a new assistant coach. So I think everyone is catching on real quick, we’ve been organized with the group, and the guys are being mature and taking everything in.”
The Vees play the Trail Smoke Eaters in Trail on Sept. 6 to start the regular season. The first home game will be on Sept. 27 against the West Kelowna Warriors, with the puck dropping at 7 p.m.
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