It wasn’t the injury bug responsible for sidelining another prominent Penticton Vee, it was the mononucleosis (mono) virus.
Fred Harbinson, head coach and general manager of the Vees said Tuesday, first-year Vee Luke Loheit, an NHL Ottawa Senators draft pick, will likely be out for several weeks.
“He (Loheit) wasn’t very good in the games this week, he just looked lethargic and he didn’t have the jump that he normally has and now we know why,” said Harbinson. “It’s too bad. He was off to a great start and now, who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see. The biggest thing now is he’s going to have to get some rest.”
Loheit, a forward, was held pointless in the last two Vees wins on Friday and Saturday after scoring a pair of goals and one assist in the first three games of the season.
There is some good news on the injury front. Cassidy Bowes, who has been practicing (no hit) with the team, could be back as early as this weekend.
The coach is also hoping that Massimo Rizzo may soon be back in Penticton for training as he continues to recover from his injury.
Neither Bowes, 19, or Rizzo, 17, have yet to play a game this season.
In spite of not having played, Rizzo was named this week as a B level prospect by NHL Central Scouting Service and someone to watch in the 2019 draft next June.
“We knew that’s where he’d (Rizzo) be and for his sake, he just wants to get out there and start playing and proving that he belonged that in that category,” said Harbinson. “With that kind of talent, he’ll come in here and hopefully get up to speed sooner than later.”
More good news for the Vees was the performance of the two new 20-year-old additions, Andre Ghantous and Brendan Harrogate, who saw their first action in the last two weekend games.
Harrogate had two goals and two assists in each game and Ghantous netted a pair of markers and added a helper in his first contest.
“They have definitely helped and will now be even more magnified with Loheit out,” said Harbinson.
The coach is looking ahead to a good weekend with a home and away series with the Vernon Vipers, Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre ( 7 p.m.) and the following night in at the Kal Tire Place in Vernon.
“It’s a great rivalry and not much has to be said really,” said Harbinson. “There’s a lot of new faces on both sides but when you throw Penticton and Vernon jerseys out on the same ice, it’s kind of like Montreal and Boston, Yankees and Red Sox.
“It’s that kind of feel. They don’t like us, we don’t like them.”
Another off-ice team addition will be back in the stands Friday as the Vee’s big, blue, furry and, as yet, unnamed mascot will be in attendance.
“He’s got a lot of great reviews and is something that we talked about is long overdue,” said Harbinson. “When I put on my president’s hat, it’s all about we never sit still. It’s fun for the kids, it’s fun for all ages really, but I know the kids really enjoy it and they’ll be a new crop of Vees fans down the road.
“I know my six-year-old wouldn’t stop talking about it, so the next thing is just naming it.”
The club is leaving the name game up to fans, who are asked to go to the Vees Facebook page (pentictonvees) with their suggestions from which the team will make some selections and put the choices up for a fan vote in two weeks.
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