The Penticton Vees are looking to get back in the win column this weekend.
It all starts Friday as the Vees (17-3-0-1) visit the Vernon Vipers at Kal Tire Place. It’s the first meeting between the two since the Vees, ranked third in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, shipped forward Liam Finlay to the Vipers on Oct. 28 in a deal for the BCHL-CHL rights to Dakota Conroy and future considerations. Since joining the Vipers, Finlay has four goals and six points in six games. The Vipers have won back-to-back games, 3-0 decisions against the Trail Smoke Eaters and Prince George Spruce Kings to improve to 11-6-1-1.
Returning to the lineup for the Vees will be forwards Cam Amantea, who was injured, and Tyson Jost, who along with defenceman Dante Fabbro, returned from the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Ontario. Fabbro won’t play as he has a lower body injury. With Jost’s return, the Vees are trying to figure out what to do with their lines and they have two priorities.
“One is that, Jost (Lewis) Zerter-Gossage and (Demico) Hannoun played extremely well before Jost left,” said Harbinson. “At the same time, now (Patrick) Newell is scoring the way we thought he would when we got him. We need to find a way to make sure all those guys are producing offensively for us. I’m still trying to figure that out.”
Newell is on an eight-game point streak in which he has three goals and 11 assists for 14 points. Newell, who is committed to the St. Cloud State Huskies for next season, feels he has gotten better and part of that is feeling more comfortable with his teammates. He has worked very well with Hannoun and Zerter-Gossage.
“I was on a good line there. We were working well together. We just kind of got hot,” said Newell.
The 18-year-old said there was an adjustment period for him to go through in the league.
“I think I’m starting to play better. Hopefully I can keep it going,” he said. “I think I was just kind of getting acquainted with the guys, the different teams that we’re playing. I’m starting to see tendencies and take advantage of it.”
Newell considers himself lucky for the chance to play with Zerter-Gossage and Hannoun.
“They are skilled players so you just have to give them the puck, let them do the rest of the work,” he said.
Harbinson wants to have at least two lines scoring and he agreed it’s a good problem that he and the coaching staff have.
As for the weekend, Newell said this is a big bounce back weekend for them.
“Going into Vernon is always fun and then hopefully we can get a little revenge on Cowichan Valley,” he said. “We just need to come out with a little bit more intensity. Try and get to them right off the start.”
The Vees will host the Cowichan Valley Capitals Saturday at 6 p.m. in the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The Vees announced this afternoon they have traded forward Josh Laframboise to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for the CJHL playing rights of forward Connor Chartier. Harbinson stated in a team release that the move will help the team immediately and in the future.
“We all know come playoff time, 20-year-old experience in junior hockey is critical,” said Harbinson. “Connor will add maturity to our lineup and undeniable passion for the game.”
Chartier, 20, was recently with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League (WHL) where he spent parts of four seasons. Chartier has played in 209 regular season and 25 playoff games for the Chiefs.
Laframboise, 18, played in 21 games for the Vees and had three goals and eight points. The Regina, Sask., native came to the Vees from the Battlefords Stars Midget program. Laframboise is committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for the fall of 2016.
Chartier is expected to arrive in Penticton this weekend and will make his debut on Nov. 19 when they host the Langley Rivermen at the SOEC.