Summer is over—at least for the Penticton Vees who suit up for exhibition matches starting Wednesday to give coaches a good look at what they can do in game action.
“They are still fighting for positions right up until Jan. 10. We do have a lot of pieces of the team figured out but they have to continue to do the right things. Just as in life you have to produce or there is going to be someone else that will,” said Vees general manager, president and head coach Fred Harbinson. “We have 21 players carded right now and we will add another player at some point. That is not a threat, it is just the way it works. Right now, everyone is doing the right things and we look forward to seeing how the chemistry works. We have good size, speed and depth this year and we will get to see how it mixes together starting this week.”
The Vees and their prospects have been at training camp since Monday. They will face off in an exhibition match on Wednesday in West Kelowna where they will face the Warriors at 7 p.m. The team will jump back into a home and home exhibition action on Friday when they host the Merritt Centennials at the SOEC at 7 p.m. then out to Merritt on Saturday.
Harbinson said they will have a good look at the younger players they have at camp on Wednesday, including the Anaheim Jr. Ducks who are in Penticton training again. Friday’s tilt against the Centennials will see more of the veterans Vees in the lineup as they prepare for the BCHL regular season which starts on Sept. 6.
“We hope to see all the guys in action because they have done a great job getting ready for the season and have put a lot of work in. We have a really good team meeting to talk about how things will run this year and the structure we are going to live by and we need every one of our players to buy into that process. We have strong veterans, eight or nine of them returning, and a lot of high-quality players that will help lead this team,” said Harbinson.
While some of the Vees players have already locked down university or college scholarships, and others have even been drafted to the NHL, Harbinson said the team motto will be about being rooted in the now.
“It is easy in life to think about what is next, but the message we are taking to the guys is to worry about right now, today, and not tomorrow. It doesn’t matter if you already have a scholarship, have been drafted to the NHL or those are things you want to eventually do. What matters, and this is not just in sports but in life, is to focus on what is happening in front of you now. It is not that we don’t want these guys to have future goals, but if you take care of things today, there will be great things waiting down the road,” he said.
In between their exhibition games, the Vees will face off against in the annual intrasquad Peaches Cup game at 5 p.m. on Thursday at the SOEC.
The Vees will face the defending national champion Brooks Bandits team in exhibition play at the SOEC on Aug. 30 and 31.
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