BCHL: Vees coach preaching defence against the Rivermen

Penticton Vees coach Fred Harbinson wants to see his team play strong defensively against Langley.

PENTICTON VEES CAPTAIN Nicholas Jones seeks an open teammate with Merritt Centennial captain Brett Jewell in hot pursuit. Jones and the Vees now get set to face Langley on Wednesday.

PENTICTON VEES CAPTAIN Nicholas Jones seeks an open teammate with Merritt Centennial captain Brett Jewell in hot pursuit. Jones and the Vees now get set to face Langley on Wednesday.

Langley, you’re next.

The Penticton Vees (9-1-0) look to extend their winning streak in the BCHL to eight games against the high octane Rivermen (3-6-1-1) in the first Wicked Wednesday, 7 p.m., of the season.

Vees rookie forward Ty Amonte said they want to keep playing their style, moving the puck up ice and out of their zone as much as possible. They want to stick to their game and not concern themselves with how the Rivermen play.

“I think we’ve been rolling since the Showcase weekend,” said Amonte. “We’re just going to keep carrying that winning attitude and that momentum into this week, our three games (Friday in Langley, then Saturday at home against the Nanaimo Clippers).”

The Rivermen come into Penticton with 44 goals, second highest in the league behind the Wenatchee Wild’s 61. The last time the teams met, the Vees won 6-3 at the Bauer BCHL Showcase.

Read more:  Sillinger spurs comeback victory for Vees

“We’re going to have to make sure that we’re playing extremely tough defence,” said Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson. “Make sure when we don’t have the puck, getting above it and making sure they have to get through three, four, five guys to get to our net. They are a fast team.”

After bumping their record in the South Okanagan Events Centre to 2-0 this season on Nov. 7 against the Merritt Centennials, the Vees earned a 4-3 overtime win in Merritt that saw them erase a 3-1 deficit. Joseph Leahy scored the Vees’ first goal, then Jared Nash and Amonte helped get them back even. Mitch Meek potted the winner at 1:58 of the extra frame.

“We showed a lot of character that we bounced right back,” said Harbinson, who called Friday’s win their best performance of the season.

“I felt like it was a really huge game for us. It was a huge comeback victory to be able to overcome Merritt in,  especially in their rink,” said Amonte. “(To) Keep a positive attitude around the rink was really huge.”

Nolan Hildebrand made 25 saves for his second win.

After 10 games, it is Amonte who leads the Vees in scoring with five goals and 14 points. Amonte, son of retired NHLer Tony Amonte, said he never thought he would come in and make the impact he has.

“It’s really nice to be able to play a role on the Vees,” he said. “I feel I’ve been playing alright. I think I’ve been getting some lucky bounces. There is definitely always room for improvement. That’s what I’ve been trying to do all season. Keep getting better every time.”

The 5-foot-11, 175- pound forward said it has been a big transition to the BCHL, which features bigger and faster players than what he was used to in high school. Amonte feels he has been adjusting well and wants to continue improving in every aspect.

“Make the extra play or not turnover the puck,” he said. “Finish a check, come back on back check.”

On the injury front, defenceman James Miller is out with an upper body injury that will keep him out against the Rivermen. He may be ready for the weekend. Same goes for Jacob Kamps. Defenceman Gabe Bast is expected to remain out of the lineup for three more weeks.