Hard work cited for Vees early success

Penticton reels off four straight wins to start season

Whatever it takes may be the Penticton Vees’ slogan this year, but two other words are being used more: hard work.

After laying a beating on the Trail Smoke Eaters in Cominco Arena last weekend by a combined score of 12-1, captain Brad McClure said the key to taking that momentum into Prince George tonight is hard work.

“This past weekend there was a lot of hard work from our team and I think hard work followed by listening to what the coaches have to say, all the system work we do, I think that all adds up and comes together to make a good result,” he said.

Vees assistant coach Michael Hengen, who works with the defence, said there isn’t much room for him to criticize their play so far, but said their success starts with the forwards.

“They do an unbelievable job of pressuring the puck getting after the other teams’ defence,” said Hengen. “It gives our defence a chance to get up in the play and gap up. Any time the opposition moves the puck past one of our forwards, our other guys are skating so hard back allowing our defence to step up.”

That has forced other teams to dump the puck. In four games, the Vees have allowed four goals, the fewest in the league. Hunter Miska earned his first career BCHL shutout in the 7-0 win against Trail.

When it comes to playing in the Prince George Coliseum, Hengen said they know “that rink is always a hostile, tough environment.”

“They always have a few guys who are very saavy on the power play,” he said. “Going up there is never easy. We’re going to have to make sure we’re taking the body and blocking shots.”

Hengen said if they are not prepared to sacrifice, they will find themselves in trouble. Olivier Mantha will return between the pipes as Hengen said their intention is to split the games between the goalies.

“In our minds this is a great problem to have,” he said. “Both guys deserve to play.”

Mantha said playing in the BCHL has been a thrill so far.

“I love the organization, I love the team, it’s just awesome,” said Mantha, adding that the pace of play is quick.

After going 5-0 in exhibtion, the Vees are now 4-0 in the regular season. What McClure likes about their start is that it’s a result of hard work.

“That’s what can make wins or break wins,” he said. “Just need to continue to make sure everyone is working hard, playing their role and things fall into place.”

McClure said while playing in the Coliseum, they have to be prepared for any bounces. To him, that preparation has come from practicing at Memorial Arena Wednesday and Thursday. McClure likes the Spruce Kings home as it reminds him of William Allman Memorial Arena, where he played junior B for the Stratford Cullitons in Ontario.

As for their offensive eruption — 17 goals in four games — McClure said he expected it after the opening weekend. He was surprised that scoring came from one or two lines.

“After that weekend I knew that guys were going to kind of explode,” he said. “All the jitters were out. It will be good for guys moving forward.”

Vees notes: There will be a season-ticket pickup party on Sept. 23 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in front of the South Okanagan Events Centre. Fans will have the opportunity to pick up their season ticket packages, mingle with the team and enjoy a barbecue. If fans are unable to attend the event, season ticket booklets will be available at the SOEC Box Office the following day after 10 a.m. Contact the box office at 250-276-2144 or Fraser Rodgers at 250-809-1390 if you need your season ticket booklet mailed or picked up by a third party. The Vees look forward to meeting all their season ticket holders at the event.

To help celebrate the fifth anniversary of the SOEC, Global Spectrum staff have invited residents to the SOEC to participate in a Guiness World Records attempt for the most simultaneous high-fives. This will take place at 5:55 p.m., but they ask that people arrive between 5 and 5:45 p.m. Free hot dogs and pop will be served and participants will be given a five-year anniversary poster. The current record for most people performing a high-five simultaneously was 4,699, achieved by The Kroger Co. at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky, on April 16, 2013.