The Penticton Vees are looking for intensity and emotion heading into their final two Royal Bank Cup round-robin games.
Captain Nicholas Jones said they weren’t at their best in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Brooks Bandits on May 14 and a 2-1 overtime win over the host Cobourg Cougars on Monday.
“Same kind of scenario as the start of the tournament of the Western Canada Cup,” said Jones, who picked up two assists, including one on a no-look backhand pass to Taylor Sanheim to defeat the Cougars. “It’s a little bit different playing these tournaments. Not knowing your opponents. Not having that hatred for them.”
Jones said it is important to their game to have that feel. The Vees like playing with pace, emotion and intensity. Jones described the last two games as a feel out process and said they know they have more to give.
“It’s sometimes hard to create that. We got to find a way to do that.”
Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson wants the players to come out with excitement and energy Wednesday. After playing in front of large crowds in the playoffs, the coaching staff warned the players the crowds will be smaller in Cobourg. Even against the Cougars, Harbinson guesses there may have only been approximately 1,000 fans in attendance.
“You have to create your own energy and excitement,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard, but we have to find a way to do it.”
Two games into the championship, Harbinson said there are moments they have played well without the puck. They have only given up one five-on-five goal and he would like more offence. The latter has been the story of their season.
On Wednesday, the Vees face the Trenton Golden Hawks (12:30 p.m.), who depending on their game against Brooks on Tuesday, could be fighting for a sliver of a chance to get into the semifinal round. Harbinson said after a good team meeting and practice, the players got a recharge. The Vees gathered for a barbecue at a house rented by families of two teammates and enjoyed their time together before having dinner.
Jones said being in Cobourg has been an adjustment as they are on their longest road trip of the season. In finishing out the round-robin of the tournament, Jones said they need to find their intensity early and keep it the whole game against Trenton and Cobras de Terrebonne on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. PST.
Harbinson has seen an improvement in the officiating, which he said was “obscene” with them calling 38 penalties in the first three games.
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“It has toned down so hopefully it continues that way and let the teams play on the ice,” he said.