Vees coaching staff impressed with team play

The 2012-13 version of the Penticton Vees are showing that you don’t have to obliterate teams to win.

The 2012-13 version of the Penticton Vees are showing that you don’t have to obliterate teams to win.

Vees fans grew accustomed to that in 2011-12 as they worked their way to a national championship season that included a Canadian Junior Hockey League record 42-straight wins.

Heading into this weekend’s action against the West Kelowna Warriors on Friday and the visiting Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday, the Vees lead the Interior Conference with a 12-2-0-1 record. That is also good for first overall in the BCHL. Last year after 15 games, the Vees were 11-3-0-1.

Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson is more than happy where his team is.

The difference is coming from both ends of the ice. Last year’s Vees scored 76 goals in 15 games, for an average of 5.07. This year, the Vees have burned goalies 54 times, for an average of 3.6.

“We might not be as flashy,” said Harbinson, “but we compete really hard, work hard and we can skate. When we’re not turning pucks over in the neutral zone and using our feet we can play with the best.”

The Vees have allowed just 32 goals for an average of 2.13, while last season they allowed 46, an average of 3.07. Harbinson said the tandem of Chad Katunar and Nic Renyard have been strong. Defence has also been tough as Harbinson said they haven’t spent a lot of time in their end. They have only been outshot twice, by Nanaimo and Prince George, and were tied in shots once.

When it comes to which team hits the scoreboard first, the Vees have done it against their opponents six times. They have also led six times after one period and eight times after two. They have been tied three times following two periods of action. The most goals the Vees have given up in a game is three, four times this season.

The Warriors (4-1-0-2) and Grizzlies (5-3-0) on the road will be put to the test against the Vees, who have won all four homes games at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Scoring league-wide is down from last year. To calculate the totals this year to last, the Vees’ 15-game mark was used. Four fewer games have been played league-wide compared to last year. Last season 821 goals were scored in 234 BCHL games compared to 685 in 230 games. The average of 3.5 goals per game last season is down to 2.97 now.

Harbinson’s only answer to why is parity.

“There are a lot of good teams right now,” he said. “Goals are hard to come by.”

Vees notes: Forward Travis Blanleil has committed to the University of Vermont for the 2014-15 season. Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson in a release said Blanleil is all about hard work.

“I enjoy seeing good things happen to good people,” said Harbinson. “Travis has made our program better on and off the ice and now he is being rewarded for his dedication. I look forward to continuing with Travis’s development over the next two seasons.”

Blanleil, 18, is in his first season with the Vees and third in the BCHL after moving over from the West Kelowna Warriors this past summer. In 15 games with Penticton, Blanleil has three goals and five points with 19 penalty-minutes. The Kelowna product has appeared in 128 regular season games, putting up 27 goals and 62 points in parts of three seasons.