The pieces are coming together for the Penticton Vees’ 2015-16 BCHL roster.
The Vees, rated No. 1 by the Canadian Junior Hockey League in pre-season rankings, are now down to eight defencemen, 16 forwards and two goalies. More decisions to trim down will be made after this week.
On Saturday the club had its Peaches Cup intrasquad game with Blue downing White 6-2. Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson liked what he saw as he felt there were bright spots on both teams. The Vees bench boss has seen some frustration in the new and returning players who are trying to learn the new things the coaches are throwing at them.
“They are trying to think and play at the same time,” said Harbinson. “What we want to do is keep a lot of these repetitions to the point where they don’t have to think anymore, just play the game.”
The Vees play their first exhibition game on Sept. 2 against the West Kelowna Warriors at the South Okanagan Events Centre at 7 p.m. ($5 admission fee.) On Friday and Saturday, the Vees welcome the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits. During those games, Harbinson and his staff want to see the players compete levels, talent and attitudes.
“We want to make sure we are directing all three in the proper way,” said Harbinson. “That will dictate how we set up our lines and our special teams. We don’t want to see guys thinking it’s going to be easy in any shape or form. It’s more about how the individuals fit as a puzzle piece and what we are trying to do for the big picture.”
Vees assistant captain Dante Fabbro said the players are focused on building chemistry, as well as relationships on and off the ice. He likes what he sees as players are getting together and hanging out as much as possible.
“Overall, the guys that are around the rink are happy to be around each other,” he said. “It’s a good atmosphere and fun to play. When guys get to the rink it’s all seriousness. We’re pretty focused on what we need to do and what we need to accomplish.”
When asked his thoughts on the defence core, Fabbro said it’s fast with the ability to move the puck. He believes it will be an exciting year. During camp, Fabbro has mostly skated with Colton Poolman and feels comfortable with the 19-year-old.
“I’m excited to play with all the guys,” the 17-year-old said. “It doesn’t seem like there is a guy you can’t play with on the ice.”
Before the puck drops on the Vees’ season, there will be a season ticket pickup party on Sept. 10 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the SOEC. Fans will have the opportunity to pick up their season ticket packages, mingle with the Vees and enjoy a hotdog BBQ (while supplies last) courtesy of Marketplace IGA. Fans unable to attend can pick up their booklets at the SOEC Box Office on Sept. 11 after 10 a.m. Please contact the Box Office (250-276-2144) or the Vees office (250-493-8337).
Exhibition tickets are not included in this year’s season ticket packages and are $5 for adults and seniors. Tickets are free for students (18 and under) and children and are on sale at the Valley First box office at the SOEC.