The Penticton Vees faced down two teams this weekend, the Merritt Centennials and the Langley Rivermen, and came out with one win and one loss.
Just three games remain in the regular season as the Vees fight to keep hold of the top spot in the division.
“We’ve had three big wins and we need two more to win the division,” said Vees head coach Fred Harbinson after Saturday’s game. “That’s something that’s very important to us. I think tonight will help us a lot, coming after a couple of hard overtime losses.”
The two games were a study in opposites. Penticton beat Merritt in all five of their previous meetings and were looking to pick up a sixth straight win on Friday only to lose 4-2 despite 55 shots on net.
The Vees were unable to win the season opener in Langley and went without a victory against the Rivermen in the previous season. Saturday’s game saw the Vees take a 3-1 win for the home crowd.
Goalie Jack LaFontaine returned to the net Saturday in fine form, blocking 25 of 26 shots that came his way. He had been replaced by backup goalie Derek Krall in Friday’s game after taking a big hit in the second period.
“Pulling him last night was more of a precautionary thing,” said Harbinson. “He was struggling a bit with the hit, we just wanted to make sure. We’re thinking long term, we’re thinking about the playoff run.
“Our doctors and trainers looked at him, he tested it out and he looked fine, and he was outstanding tonight.”
With their playoff spot clinched, Penticton is looking to keep their spot at the top of the division going into their post-season games.
The Vees go up against the Wenatchee Wild on Wednesday at home. The Vees are 2-3 against the Wild so far this season.
To finish the season, the Vees take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in back-to-back games, one away, one at home. The Vees and Silverbacks have a tied record for the season with two wins apiece.
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