Vees batten down the hatches for tough weekend on the island

Penticton Vees face the Nanaimo Clippers and Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Make no bones about it, the Penticton Vees are in for a tough weekend on Vancouver Island.

With defencemen Jonny Tychonick, Ryan O’Connell and Luke Reid all at the Team Canada West tryout for the Under-19 World Junior A Challenge, the blue line will be looking a little slim at least for one of their games. The trio head off for camp after facing Nanaimo Clippers on Friday night.

Related: Penticton Vees invited to Team Canada West camp

“We really have only one choice, that is to fight harder. We can’t sit and dwell that we’re losing guys because we will be behind the eight ball right away and they could potentially be gone for six games if they all make the team,” said Vees head coach Fred Harbinson. “But we deal with this year after year, it is just magnified this season because it is so tight for points in our division.”

Related: Scheel secures shutout for Vees over Warriors

The good news for the Vees is goaltender Adam Scheel has more than adequately been doing his duty. He turned aside 33 shots on Wednesday night against the Warriors to give the Vees their eighth win in a row and his second shutout in as many games. Most notably was a save in the third period with the Warriors trying to knot the game 1-1. Scheel stuffed a Warriors player on the doorstep, leaving him turned out of position and the puck back into play. Lying flat on his stomach across the goal line, Scheel tracked the puck to the slot and managed to outstretch his arm just enough to get his glove on a shot that was destined for the open net. Easily, a case for save-of-the-season so far.

“It was a great save,” said Harbinson. “I would have took issue had they scored and it counted though because it seemed like goaltender interference. I was standing on the bench and when that whistle didn’t blow after his first save I thought for sure it was going to end up in the back of the net. He was laying on his belly and a guy with the puck on his forehand out just five feet. All he had to do is throw it into the empty net. But, it goes to show what we tell these guys that you have to battle to the end. To see Adam reaching his arm out fighting to make that save it was great.”

The timing couldn’t be better as they face the red hot Nanaimo Clippers (15-9-3-2) on Friday, who have earned points in 12 straight games. That is due, in part, to the leadership of their leading scorer Jake Harris who has 14 goals and 14 assists in 28 games.

Related: Clippers crush Capitols to extend point streak to 12 games

“We have to bring a solid team game. That has been the biggest thing this season, it is not just about the d-core, forwards or goaltending alone. It is everyone shooting on all cylinders and the play in our own end will be critical this weekend,” said Harbinson.

The Vees have brought affiliate defenceman Trevor Isaksson, who lasted suited up against the Vernon Vipers on Nov. 10. Isaksson is the captain of the Valley West Hawks in the B.C. Major Midget League

The Vees will finish their road trip against the slumping Alberni Valley Bulldogs (8-14-2-2). After their Wednesday win against the Warriors, the Vees are one point back of the second place Trail Smoke Eaters and three behind the Vipers in the BCHL Interior division.

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