Penticton Vees head coach Fred Harbinson said his team has been a bit fortunate with their success against the West Kelowna Warriors.
Heading into Friday’s match, the first of a home-and-home series that begins in the South Okanagan Events Centre at 7 p.m., the Vees have a record of 3-0 with 3-2, 6-3 and 3-2 wins, the last one coming on Nov. 26.
“We have had some real tight games against them,” said Harbinson of the Warriors who have won five of their last 10 games. “They are a heck of a team. They are playing well right now.”
Harbinson and his staff went to Vernon Wednesday and watched the Vipers defeat the Warriors 3-1. Harbinson wanted to get a read on the Warriors since they have made a few moves trading away Ambrose Firkus, Jaden Schmeisser and Braxton Bilous.
“It’s going to be a tough weekend for both teams,” said Harbinson. “Two great teams with a lot at stake going into the Christmas break.”
The Vees are putting their eight-game winning streak on the line, while the Warriors had won three straight heading into Vernon. Harbinson likes the performance of his players. He’s received contributions from all four lines and used all seven defenceman during their recent road trip.
“We have been able to utilize our depth,” said Harbinson.
Vees defenceman Brett Beauvais said it’s going to be a huge weekend since they are facing a rival. That rivalry is something Steen Cooper has learned about in the dressing room.
“I guess the hatred, dislike the teams have for one another,” he said. “I’m excited to get this rivalry fired up on Friday.”
Cooper enjoys being part of tight games that get heated.
“There are big hits and there are obviously going to be some goals scored,” added Cooper. “You always want to win the ones that are your biggest rivals. Should be a good couple games this weekend.”
Off the ice, the Vees announced that Warren Foegele has committed to play next season.
“Warren attended our training camp prior to returning to St. Andrew’s this season and we knew … Warren was a player that would be a huge addition to our team in 2014-15,” said Harbinson.
Foegele, 17, is currently enrolled at St. Andrew’s College (SAC) in Aurora, Ont., where he plays for their varsity team. They play in two leagues, the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association and the Midwest Prep Hockey League. Foegele leads his team in scoring in the MPHL with six goals and 21 points in nine games. Overall, Foegele leads SAC in scoring, with 15 goals and 37 points in 17 games. The Unionville,Ont. native had 37 goals and 73 points in 58 games last year and was named a CISAA and MPHL all-star. Foegele is commited to the University of New Hampshire in 2015.
Vees notes: Forward Matt Serratore is joining the Air Force Academy in 2015-16. Harbinson said Serratore’s strengths make him a perfect fit at the Air Force. “Matt’s work ethic and hockey IQ is his strength,” said Harbinson. “He continues to grow as a player and will be a great addition for Air Force in 2015.” The 19-year-old is in his first season with the Vees and has four goals and 10 points in 35 games. The Bemidji, Minn. native discovered his offensive touch recently with two goals and five points in eight games. Serratore is one of the Vees’ top defensive forwards and penalty-killers. Serratore is the 16th player on the Vees roster to land an NCAA Division I commitment and first at Air Force.