Life without Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro began on Dec. 5 for the Penticton Vees.
Jost and Fabbro are in Leduc, Alta., and earned a roster spot on Team Canada West for the World Junior A Challenge, as Hockey Canada announced the roster Tuesday. When asked about playing without the pair on Monday following a 4-4 tie against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Saturday, Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said, “Life without a lot of guys, really.”
“It’s more than two of them,” he said.
The Vees, Canada’s top junior A squad, also push on with injured players.
Demico Hannoun is the latest to join Dixon Bowen and defencemen Gabe Bast and Seamus Donohue. Hannoun is out four to six weeks with a broken left hand suffered during a 3-0 win over the Vernon Vipers in the South Okanagan Events Centre Dec. 4.
“You tell him to get in front of the net more and then he does and one of our own guys hits him with a slapshot, there we go,” said Harbinson, who just grinned in disbelief about the injuries. Adding to the injury front, Harbinson said he learned that Jost was hurt during camp and was waiting to hear the extent of that injury. Making trades isn’t really an option because there are not many out there and they have one card left. The Vees took on the Bulldogs with 10 forwards and five regular defenceman and Harbinson said affiliate player Daniel Stone of the Osoyoos Coyotes played well. The Vees led Alberni Valley 4-2 in the third period when they allowed two goals in the last nine minutes, one of them on the penalty-kill.
“When you get the lead in the third, you’d think that we’re pretty golden usually in those situations,” said Harbinson.
It’s the first time this season in that position that the Vees didn’t close out the game.
With the injuries and absence of Jost and Fabbro, it brings opportunities for other players.
“They are getting a great opportunity to play more and play in different situations,” said Harbinson. “They need to grab it and take hold of it and run with it.”
A couple of players looking to do that is rookie Ben Brar and veteran Chris Gerrie.
“It’s just a chance for the other guys to step up and carry some of the workload,” he said. “I want to get out there. There is more opportunity to be taken out there. Go out there and seize the moment.
“I feel like I’ve been playing a lot better lately, just more confidence out there,” continued Brar, who opened the scoring against the Bulldogs with his parents in attendance. “Playing with more confidence instead of dumping the puck in, I’ll carry it in and try to make a play.”
Also scoring for the Vees against the Bulldogs was Colton Poolman, Nicholas Jones and Scott Conway. In the win over Vernon, Driscoll earned the shutout, while Easton Brodzinski, Conway and Jones scored.
Gerrie said he must step up his game.
“I’ve been working on trying to get the puck in the net,” said Gerrie, who hasn’t scored in four games and has two in 10 games. “It’s definitely a good opportunity for me. I think I have to try and take advantage of it.”