On the road again.
For the Penticton Vees the simple, fun-lovin’ life of cruising on a bus to different cities that Willie Nelson twanged about goes against everything they will be up against. Coquitlam, Surrey, Wenatchee and Trail — that’s where the number one team in the Interior Division will be trucking to over the next seven days.
As they skate to the mid-way point of the BCHL regular season, the Vees are coming off their toughest month of hockey with 13 games on the schedule.
“It’s a wild month. It is a lot of hockey,” said Vees coach Fred Harbinson. “A lot of overtimes in there, but we are finding ways to get points and we are tied for first right now. It has been a long grind trying to stay in the top of the pack and there is a long ways to go. The next few games are going to be big. We have to show we can win some games on the road.”
On the road again, the games don’t always turn the Vees way. At home the Vees have won 12 of 15 games. Away from the South Okanagan Events Centre, they have lost seven of 11 games so far this season.
“The points are going to be big. We don’t have the benefit of the last change. The last couple of games we had the last change and we could dictate if we have affiliate players who our opponents are going against, so that will be a bit of a challenge and we will have to be on top of that,” said Harbinson.
The three games they have come out on the wrong side of include a shootout loss to the Coquitlam Chiefs, who they will face again on Nov. 23, that still burns in their minds.
“We have a bad taste in our mouth losing to them in the shootout. We will be ready for that one,” promised forward David Silye, the Vees top scorer. “We want to end this half of the season in a good spot. We want to get as many points as we can to separate ourselves from second place.”
The following day, Nov. 24, the Vees will come up against the Surrey Eagles — a team they easily skated by on Wednesday with a 6-1 win.
— Craig Beauchemin (@craig_beauch) November 22, 2018
“The big mental side of this is to regroup and get ready for a Coquitlam team that took a point from us in our building, then again playing a team you beat 6-1 and going into their building. You know you are going to get a better performance from them,” said Harbinson.
After those two games, the Vees will head to Wenatchee on Nov. 28 to play the Wild, then to Trail on Nov. 30. That game is part of a home-and-home series bringing the Vees back to the SOEC on Dec. 1.
The Vees have been hampered with injuries as of late. They are in need of a defenceman after losing Connor Hutchinson for the season. However, on Friday, the Vees announced they acquired Carson Kosobud from the USHL’s Central Illinois Flying Aces.
Harbinson said Brendan Harrogate could play this weekend, while Luke Loheit and Lukas Sillinger are still about a week away from returning. Defenceman Kenny Johnson will return to the lineup after the weekend when his suspension is over.
Harbinson said besides the challenges of being in other team’s arenas, and being shorthanded, the staff also need to make sure they are steering everyone in the right direction.
“You become a bit of a parent in these situations. You are telling them to dress the right way, eat the right foods and get sleep. It does add up on you if you don’t do the right things and catches up to teams with sickness or getting worn down,” said Harbinson. “We always talk about our fuel tank here and we want to replenish it so we have a full fuel tank come game night.”
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