There is no secret formula, no magic spell behind the success of the Penticton Vees special teams. In fact, it is pretty darn simple, according to coach Fred Harbinson.
“It’s just hard work,” he said, matter of factly.
The Vees sit atop the heap of the B.C. Hockey League holding the number one spot for their penalty kill (87.9 per cent). With the man advantage they are fifth overall for their power play (20.8 per cent), just behind Interior division rival Wenatchee Wild (23.8 per cent).
“It all goes back to hard work. We also have a lot of guys that can kill penalties. In some years you only have three or four forwards that can do that. This year we probably have eight or 10,” said Harbinson.
— Penticton Vees (@PentictonVees) October 31, 2017
One of those players is team scoring leader Owen Sillinger. Out of the 19 points he has recorded so far this season, nine have been on the power play or while playing short-handed.
“It’s definitely been the strength of our team. We like to work hard on special teams in practice and that is transferring to the games. We take pride in it. The energy goes up on the bench when we have to make a big kill for our teammates,” said Sillinger.
That was on full showcase in the 7-1 thumping the Vees gave to the Surrey Eagles Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre, complete with a short-handed goal by Grant Cruikshank.
“Our special teams were great.(On Wednesday) we only gave up one goal with a guy in the penalty box and scored four on the power play. We take a lot of pride in getting our guys prepared for different things they are going to see come game night. Tonight they were bang on and executed it.”
The Vees are the least penalized team in the league (219 minutes, Chilliwack Chiefs are the most with 392 minutes) but the success of their special teams comes from a lot of work off the ice as well.
“As far as the penalty kill, I let assistant coach Jason Becker meet with the guys and work with them. I work on the power play, but with our staff it is everyone. Assistant coach Matt Fraser is involved. I take advice from our video coach. We get along really well as a staff and to me its about developing coaches here too, not just players. I think everyone needs to be involved and that is the way we do it here.”
The Vees have a big game on Friday against division rival West Kelowna Warriors and then will be back at the SOEC on Saturday to meet the Cowichan Valley Capitals who have yet to earn a win this month (as of print deadline, they play Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday).