If it were up to the Penticton Vees coaching staff, all their players would be skating around with a four-leaf clover in their skates.
Or, a horse shoe, a rabbit’s foot — anything to break them of their bad luck streak of injuries.
“Something. I think everybody in town needs to sacrifice a chicken or burn some candles or something,” said Vees head coach, general manager and president Fred Harbinson. “We had (Nicky) Lievermann go down on Saturday. It’s nuts. The funny thing now is we are past the stage of getting phased by another injury. We just deal with it and move on.”
Lievermann, a defenceman who sits second overall in scoring on the team and is a Colorado Avalanche draft pick, left the game Saturday night against the Wenatchee Wild with an upper body injury. He is having minor surgery that the Vees hope will only keep him out four weeks. Chris Klack, who has been out since November appears to be ready for Wednesday’s game and Cassidy Bowes, who has been out with an injury since mid-December, needs a couple more weeks before he will be back.
Add to that tally, season-ending injuries to Grant Cruikshank and defenceman Ryan O’Donnell and the carefully calculated plan for the season by the Vees staff might as well be ripped up and tossed in the garbage.
“I have never seen something like this and all to top players and long, lengthy injuries. We feel like we have recruited two different teams this year,” said Harbinson. “But hey, we are still fighting here and fighting until the end.”
That battle continues on Wednesday against the Merritt Centennials. With so many changes in the lineup, Harbinson said they haven’t had time to build line chemistry. Instead, they have replaced that with plain, old, simple hard work.
“I have had seasons where you put your lines together and maybe a couple of them stay exactly the same from the first game of the year to the last. We are not worried about messing with any chemistry because there isn’t any. I guaranteed going into our last two games we would be the hardest working team and we were … We were great for the whole weekend and competed exactly how I asked of them and it will be the same on Wednesday.”
— Craig Beauchemin (@craig_beauch) January 6, 2018
The Vees have the upper hand in the series of games against the Centennials so far this season.
“Right before Christmas (the Centennials) got really hot and they are fighting to get better. For us, I don’t care what colour the jersey is across from us or what the logo says on the front of their jersey. For us, it is trying to create and build traction with our team. I thought we knuckled down and got the results we needed this past weekend and we don’t want to take a step back now,” said Harbinson.