Penticton Vees forward Jared Nash tries to wrangle a loose puck in front of the Powell River Kings goalie at the SOEC last weekend. The Vees lost the game 4-2 and are back in action Friday at the SOEC against the Vernon Vipers. Mark Brett/Western News

Injury ridden Vees not ready to back down

Penticton Vees face rival Vernon Vipers in a home-and-home series this weekend

The injury bug has hit the Penticton Vees, but nothing like a little adversity (and a big rivalry weekend) to get things going.

“Right now we are in a slump, it isn’t all to do with losing guys to injuries, however we have been losing our leaders,” said Vees head coach Fred Harbinson. “We are looking at the positive side of this, that we are giving kids opportunities to earn more ice time and get better. I have been in this league for 11 years and they have not yet handed out the trophy in November. People may be counting us out, but they can go right ahead because nobody in our room is quitting.”

The Vees (10-5-1-1) face rival Vernon Vipers (15-4-0-3) in a pair of home and home games on back-to-back nights starting Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre (7 p.m.). They will be without the services of Massimo Rizzo and Luke Reid, who are playing for Team Canada Black at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, forward Jackson Keane and Chris Klack. Having just recovered from a punctured lung, Klack injured himself in practice on Wednesday. He is on the long-term injury reserve and is not expected to return until at least Christmas.

Related: Penticton Fees players earns two points in Team Canada Black loss

“It’s just been the way things have gone, since Day 1 really. We had guys out during training camp with injuries. I actually haven’t had one practice since the season started with the whole team. It’s bizarre. That is something really hard to do I think,” said Harbinson. “I said this before, but no one is going to feel sorry for us. No one is going to cry for us. We have won so many games and championships, now we have some adversity and we hope it makes us stronger later in the season.”

“There are two ways to handle this. We can let it smother us, or we can embrace it. We are not afraid of some failures. We will continue to fight and get back to our winning ways.”

The Vees are on a three game losing skid, but have bolstered their lineup making roster moves this week to hopefully shake things up. Jordan Henderson, a defenceman that has been toiling in the Western Hockey League for the past three season, is expected to see action this weekend against the Vipers.

“Our defence core has been shorthanded for over a month now, playing with four or five defenceman most nights,” said Harbinson. “The addition of Jordan Henderson brings much-needed stability and experience which we have seen in the past to be invaluable come playoff time.”

Defenceman Greg Brydon announced this week he has retired from hockey to focus on his education, having been accepted to Queens University engineering program.

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