The Penticton Vees are ignoring the Vernon Vipers’ record of one win in six games.
Tied for last in the BCHL’s Interior Division with the Salmon Arm SilverBacks, the Vees coach and players know they must still be prepared for a battle at Kal Tire Place on Wednesday.
“The way for them to get their season kicked off on the right foot would be to knock us off tomorrow night at home where they are always tough to play against,” said Vees coach Fred Harbinson, whose team picked up its first loss against the Prince George Spruce Kings, 4-3 last Friday.
Heading into their final road game before the home opener against the Merritt Centennials at the South Okanagan Events Centre (7 p.m. start) on Friday, regardless of the result, the Vees will have a better record than what Harbinson hoped for.
“I was hoping for at least 3-3, and right now we are 4-1,” he said.
Facing what Harbinson said it likely the biggest team in the BCHL, the Vees coach said it will be important for them to use their speed. Harbinson doesn’t want to allow the Vipers to slow the game down. When having puck possession, Harbinson doesn’t want to see his players turning the puck over.
“If we don’t support the puck in the offensive zone, we will end up playing a lot in our own end,” he said.
Vees captain Brad McClure expects Wednesday’s tilt to be exciting.
“They have a good team over there,” said McClure, adding that playing in Kal Tire Place is one of his favorite arenas because of the atmosphere. “Those guys will be up to play us.”
In their loss to the Spruce Kings McClure said they had a slow start in the opening period, which had them trailing 3-1. One of the Spruce Kings goals came on the power play.
“They took advantage of that (slow start),” he said. “In this league you can’t afford to have any periods off. I think it’s a learning lesson for us.”
Vees goalie Olivier Mantha, who made 20 saves in the loss, said there were some unlucky goals that got past him. What he liked is that the Vees showed some fight to erase a two-goal lead.