Vees ready to host tough Warriors

Vees expect tough battle against West Kelowna Warriors on Wednesday at SOEC



Penticton Vees assistant captain Dante Fabbro describes the West Kelowna Warriors as ‘a big, mean team.’

That big, mean team visit the South Okanagan Events Centre Wednesday at 7 p.m. Fabbro added that if they stay focused, the 7-4-0-2 Warriors will be another good test for them.

Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said that discipline will be critical.

“They have a very dangerous power play,” said Harbinson.

The Warriors have scored 15 times on 55 chances for an efficiency rate of 27 per cent.

Vees forward Luke Voltin said they will have to be cautious of top line players Liam Blackburn and Jonathan Desbiens. The pair have combined for eight power-play goals. The Warriors have more offensive weapons in Garrett Forster (5-9-14), Kyle Marino (5-5-10) and Kylar Hope (4-6-10). Harbinson also pointed out that their back end has improved since the start of the season. The Vees have won the first two games of the season series, but Harbinson said the confidence they have has more to do with their own play, rather than having confidence against who they are facing.

“We know we’re playing a real good hockey team,” he said. “West Kelowna will be very determined. We’re excited about it because we want to play those tough games. It should be a good atmosphere, a good night.”

Voltin added that the Warriors are a skilled team with players who enjoy taking the body, one of them being Marino, who likes to finish his checks. Voltin intends to return the favour while also trying to get Marino off his game mentally. The two have a history, that included Marino starting a line brawl when Voltin was with the Vernon Vipers.

“The goalie got into it too. Our goalie fought one of their players,” he said. “That was pretty funny. Just do what you can to get them off their game.”

The Vees (12-1-0-0), who climbed two spots in the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings to No. 3, are on a 12-game winning streak. The Vees swept their weekend home series against the Prince George Spruce Kings, 5-2, Friday and 4-3 against the Langley Rivermen on Saturday with their parents in the stands. Vees captain Tyson Jost, the first star of the game who grabbed a goal and two assists in the win over the Rivermen, said the streak is a team effort, but isn’t the focus in the locker room.

“There’s not just one person who contributes to it, it’s a team game and 22 men in that locker room contributed to this streak,” Jost said. “We’re not too focused on that, we’re just focused on going out there every night and working hard, playing our building.”

-written with files from Dale Boyd.

Vees notes: Alumni Troy Stecher, playing for the University of North Dakota, has been named National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Defenceman of the Week for his performance in North Dakota’s non-conference series with Bemidji State last weekend. Stecher scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period turning a 2-2 tie into a 5-2 home win for top-ranked UND. One night earlier, Stecher dished out a pair of assists in a 4-4 overtime tie in Bemidji. Stecher leads all NCHC defencemen in points, five through the first four games.

Steven Fogarty (2012) had a big weekend for the Fighting Irish. The senior and captain notched a hat-trick in Notre Dame’s 7-4 win Friday against Penn State. He leads ND in scoring with three goals and four points. His teammate and fellow alum Mario Lucia (2012) is right behind him in the team scoring race, with a pair of goals and four points.

Penn State senior Curtis Loik (2010-2012) is off to a great start for Nittany Lions. Loik leads the team and the entire Big Ten in scoring with two goals and six points. Loik had two points in Penn State’s 5-3 win Saturday against Notre Dame.

A couple of alumni are near the top of the ECAC scoring race, as Travis St. Denis (2012) and James de Haas (2013) are making noise. St. Denis, a senior at Quinnipiac, is tied for fourth in ECAC scoring with four points (2-2-4), and Clarkson junior de Haas is the second-highest scoring defenseman in the Conference (0-4-4).

There are two milestones to catch up on involving a pair of freshman. Air Force cadet Matt Serratore (2014-2015) scored his first career NCAA goal on Saturday in a 3-3 tie with Robert Morris University, and Connecticut defenceman Miles Gendron (2015), who scored his first NCAA goal a week ago, in a 5-2 loss against Alabama-Huntsville.