Vees looking for consistency this weekend

The Penticton Vees travel to West Kelowna Friday, host Powell River Saturday

It’s all about consistency this weekend for the Penticton Vees.

“In a lot of our games, we have real strong pushes, then we have lulls, or it starts with a lull and then we have a push,” Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said after talking about their 4-1 loss to the Smoke Eaters in Trail Oct. 28. “It’s understandable when you are playing against good teams that you are not going to be the better team on the ice all the time. We have to manage the momentum swings in our games a little better.”

With a win in their last four games, Harbinson said the players were pretty flat against the Smoke Eaters. They got into penalty trouble which gave the Smoke Eaters steam in their building with a crowd of 2,312 at Cominco Arena. The Smoke Eaters finally capitalized on their third power play.

“I thought we came out with some jam in the third period. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the second one,” he said. “They score two late goals when we are trying to press to create offence. We weren’t good enough though.”

Harbinson said they must move on, not dwelling on victories or defeats. They met on Monday for a short meeting with the players to discuss things they have done well and things they need to improve on. Harbinson didn’t elaborate saying they are keeping it to themselves, and added it “was nothing earth shattering.”

“A lot of times I say things and people think I’m just saying it to say it. It’s a good division,” said Harbinson of the B.C. Hockey League’s Interior Division. “Half our teams are within a few points in the entire league.”

Vernon sits atop the Interior with 26 points. Trail, Wenatchee, Penticton, West Kelowna and Salmon Arm have a point-gap of five between them. In the Mainland Division, Langley leads with 26 points, while Surrey is fourth with 20 points. It’s just as tight in the Island, where Powell River, who visits Penticton Saturday at 6 p.m., leads with 22 points, and Alberni Valley is fifth with 15 points.

“I don’t think there is a team in our league that is just going to grab it and run away with it,” said Harbinson. “We are going to have to find different ways to win and we have to find ways to try to stay with the top group.”

The Kings are 10-4-1-1 on the season and 2-1-1 in their last four. The Kings were shut out by the Nanaimo Clippers 4-0 at hoome on Oct. 28. The Kings will play in Wenatchee before facing the Vees. The Kings are led offensively by Carter Turnbull who has 10 goals and 20 points in 16 games. Half his goals came on the power play. Jonny Evans has three goals and 17 points in 12 games. Their top scoring defenceman is Carmine Buono, who has three goals and 13 points in 16 games. In goal, Mitch Adamyk has seven wins in 11 games. He has a 1.96 goals against average and .931 save percentage.

The Vees will be without rookies Massimo Rizzo and Luke Reid, who are at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge hosted by Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, Nov. 5 to 11. The Vees, who have yet to play a game this season with a healthy roster, will get Chris Klack back for the weekend from his injury. Defenceman Kenny Johnson is serving the last of his four-game suspension on Friday and is eligible to return against Powell River. The Vees will be short a defenceman on Friday.

Vees rookie defenceman Ryan O’Connell said the key for the weekend is the players staying positive.

“There are so many games every week that it is a busy schedule,” he said. “You can’t let one game effect the way you are going to play the next week. Reflect on the last game and just go on from there.”

On Friday, the Vees, who dropped from seventh to 19 in the Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 rankings, face West Kelowna for the first time since defeating them 2-1 in their home opener. The Warriors are 11-7-0 and have won once in their last four games. Their last victory was Oct. 21 against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

“They are a good team. You can’t have any games off in this league everyone is so good now,” said O’Connell. “It’s definitely going to be a tough game every game.”

Vees notes: Defenceman Jonny Tychonick climbed one spot to 30 in the ISS Top 31 prospects for the 2018 NHL Draft. Defenceman Rasmus Dahlin of the Swedish Elite League maintained his No.1 ranking.

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