Look past the Surrey Eagles record (4-9-2-0) because that’s what Penticton Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson is doing.
In October, the Eagles defeated the Vernon Vipers on the road, Coquitlam at home, as well as the Wenatchee Wild. They are coming off a tough weekend road trip in Prince George where they lost 11-2 and 4-2.
“Their last few weeks they’ve actually had a real good record and are getting points,” said Harbinson.
The Eagles have also scored three more goals than the Vees (54) in the same number of games, 15. They visit the Vees at the South Okanagan Events Centre Wednesday.
“They are probably one of the faster teams in the league,” said Harbinson. “They got a couple guys (Desi Burgart and Cory Babichuk) coming back in our building that we moved. I’m sure they will want to come back and do well. There is going to be some motivation there on their part.”
Burgart is seventh on the Eagles in scoring with five goals and 13 points in 15 games. Babichuk has a goal and three points in 13 games with no penalty minutes.
The numbers that look good for the Eagles are their power play, which ranks No.1 in the BCHL at 31.7 per cent. Logan Mostat leads the Eagles in power play goals with five, followed by Darius Davidson with three. Their penalty kill is at 85.1 per cent. They have allowed two goals on 67 shorthanded chances.
“There is going to be a lot of challenges with this game for sure,” said Harbinson.
Vees captain Nicholas Jones said they have the ability to beat a good team as they witnessed with the Wild (11-2-1-0).
“They got a lot of skill, a lot of speed,” he said. “We have to be ready for that. With a team like that you don’t know what you’re going to get. With their speed they can do some damage.”
The Vees are coming off a weekend in which they defeated divisional opponents Merritt 4-2 and West Kelowna 6-3.
READ MORE: Vees double West Kelowna
“We came out really hard. Definitely set the tone in the first,” said Vees defenceman Griffin Mendel on West Kelowna. “In the second they came back a bit. In the third we just held our own. We took it to them too outscoring them (2-0).”
“We played really well. Two of our better games this year,” said Jones.
With the win, the Vees (13-2-0-0) increased their lead to seven points atop of the Interior Division over idle Merritt. They also bumped up their road record to 9-1-0-0 and their record against division opponents now sits at a perfect 6-0-0-0.
Wednesday’s game is another “Wicked Wednesday,” presented by BCAA and it’s “Vees Fight Cancer” night. The Vees will be wearing special pink jerseys and fans can make a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society.
“It’s a tough disease. It hits a lot of people,” said Harbinson, mentioning the organization lost dear friend Jamie Weberg two years ago, adding that they will do anything they can in support. “(Vees fan) Jon (Race) is doing his part doing the haircut. I think it’s important.”
Race’s hair will be donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths program through the Canadian Cancer Society. Also shaving their heads will be Vees broadcaster Fraser Rodgers, RCMP Corporal Don Wrigglesworth and Fire Chief Larry Watkinson.
First Choice Haircutters Penticton will be donating haircutting services. Fans can meet Jon on the concourse prior to the game and make a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society. Those that make a donation will be entered into a draw to win a Vees jersey signed by the 2015-16 team, including first round NHL draft picks, Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro.
It’s also the Vees’ annual “Trick-or-Suite” night at the SOEC. Children (12 and under) accompanied by a parent, will have the opportunity to “Trick-or-Treat” on suite level in the first intermission. The organization wants to see your best Halloween costumes.