The Penticton Vees are getting a roster boost this weekend.
Back are captain Tyson Jost and alternate captain Dante Fabbro, as well as Dixon Bowen and Seamus Donohue, who have recovered from long-term injuries. All will be in the lineup as the Vees take on the Vipers, 16-20-3-0, in Vernon on New Year’s Day, then welcome the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, 21-9-2-2, to the South Okanagan Events Centre on Jan. 2.
“I’ve been waiting a long time,” said Donohue, who missed 16 games with a broken arm.
The Vees rookie blue liner has missed two months of action, but said it felt longer.
“Being away from the rink and the boys, it’s tough, but it’s really good to be back,” said the hard-hitting defenceman. “I’m excited to get back out there. I have had it marked on my calendar for a long time.”
It was a difficult time for the Mendota Heights, Minn., product to be away, but having other injured teammates around to talk to made it easier. They all pulled together for support. Bowen said it’s always tough, but added he tried to be positive. While having the support of others, the East Grand Forks, Minn., native focused on his rehab as he missed 11 games after taking a head shot against the Langley Rivermen on Nov. 20.
“It’s great to be back. You’re hungrier I think,” said Bowen, who in high school missed 20 games with a broken bone in his hip. “It’s a nice mental break I guess, but you never want to be injured.”
Bowen has been skating on a line with Nicholas Jones and Chris Gerrie in practice and said it has been going well. There has been good pace.
“I’m excited to play with those guys because they have been playing pretty well,” said Bowen, who has four goals and 11 points in 25 games. “I’m champing at the bit. I can’t wait. This is going to be a good weekend to get back into it. Good rivalries.”
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson has seen a boost in tempo with having Bowen and Donohue back, as well as Jost and Fabbro, who helped Canada West win a gold medal in the World Junior A Challenge on Dec. 19.
“For those two guys that were out with long term injuries, you can tell they are excited about being back in the fold,” said Harbinson.
He is especially happy to have the two defenceman back.
“The puck moving ability on our back end just increased,” he said.
As for Gabe Bast’s status, Harbinson said they would learn more on New Year’s Day. He is seeing a doctor and by Jan. 4 the Vees should know which direction they are going. He played six games and has been out with a lower body injury.
This week in practice has been more about getting chemistry going again with players and working towards how they want to be playing come playoff time.