The Penticton Vees may be on an eight-game playoff winning streak and on route to an Interior Conference Finals appearance — that doesn’t mean, however, that there haven’t been lessons to be learned along the way.
Penticton has gone undefeated since losing its playoff opener to the Trail Smoke Eaters on March 31, capturing two series wins in the process.
But the team’s president, general manager and head coach believes that despite defeating the Smoke Eaters in five games and then sweeping the Prince George Spruce Kings, the Vees have been taught some important lessons ahead of their upcoming series against the West Kelowna Warriors.
“It was a good experience for us to lose that first game and play from behind in the (Trail) series. We showed that nothing was going to be easy,” said Fred Harbinson, the recipient of this year’s BCHL’s Coach of the Year award.
“We found a way to get through that first round, which a lot of the time, is a hard round to get through.”
The Vees have won outscored their opponents by a combined score of 29-11 since losing to the Smoke Eaters in the playoffs’ first matchup.
“Even though we swept (Prince George), the series was tighter than maybe the sweep indicates,” Harbinson added. “We’ve learned a lot of different small lessons through the season and playoffs, which will get us ready for Friday night.”
The West Kelowna Warriors will pay Penticton a visit on Friday, April 29, to officially start the B.C. Hockey League’s conference finals.
Harbinson referenced the close games the Vees played on the road in Trail as the moments that have helped his team prepare for what’s expected to be a tight third-round series against the Warriors. The Vees defeated the Smoke Eaters by a 2-1 margin in the third and fourth games of the first-round set.
“We had some difficulty keeping the puck out of the net when we’ve played (West Kelowna), so that will be our challenge going into Friday and Saturday,” Harbinson said.
The winner of the Interior Conference Finals will move on to play for the BCHL’s most prestigious trophy, the Fred Page Cup.
Tickets for the series’ first two games this weekend are available on valleyfirsttix.com.