The Wenatchee Wild have their plan for facing the Penticton Vees Wednesday (7 p.m. start) at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Roll four lines, stay out of the box and play an uptempo and skilled game.
“I’d expect a track meet,” said Wild head coach and general manager Bliss Littler. “I think our players are excited. It’s a pretty gaudy record that they have right now.”
The Wild, 23-11-2-3, in their first season in the BCHL, are 11-6-1-2 away from the Town Toyota Centre. The Wild believe they would have a better record had they not been without top defenceman Tyler Rockwell and Konsta Jaske with long-term injuries. Both are back.
“I don’t think there has been a big difference us at home and on the road,” said Littler. “Our effort level, that has been pretty consistent.”
The Vees, No. 3 in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, are excited about the matchup.
“I think it’s going to be a pretty good game,” said Vees alternate captain Colton Poolman.
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said following their 4-2 loss to Salmon Arm on Jan. 9, it doesn’t matter who they are playing, they have the mindset to bounce back.
“We’ve had a chance to watch them a lot on tape and they are a four-line team that can really skate well,” said Harbinson. “They keep coming at you in waves. They have a pretty good sized goaltender. It should be a pretty good task. I think they look like a team that … that is tough to play in a playoff series. I think for a lot of people in town too, it’s a new team that hasn’t been here. I think everybody is excited.”
In other Vees news, defenceman Gabe Bast will see a specialist in Vancouver this week for his lower body injury. Harbinson said every week it seems they will have more news then don’t.
“It’s frustrating first and foremost for Gabe, and secondly for his teammates and our team. I’m sure the fans as well,” said Harbinson. “One of the best defenceman in the league has played six games. He hasn’t played since the Showcase. I think we can definitely win a championship without him, but it definitely becomes a better situation if we do get him back.”
Rookie forward Desi Burgart was placed on an Okanagan Hockey Academy card as Bast had to come off the injured reserve following Jan. 10. Moving Burgart to a different level and playing five games allows Burgart to come back and be a permanent part of the team on the reserve roster. The move allows the Vees to carry 23 players. He is limited to 10 regular season games for the rest of the season and the Vees have 18 remaining.
Vees notes: Feed the Valley night presented by Valley First will take place at the game Wednesday. Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable items to donate to the local foodbank and enter for a chance to win a luxury suite rental. Tickets sell $2 for one or $5 for three and all raffle proceeds benefit Feed the Valley. The suite for 12 includes $200 catering credit for a regular season Penticton Vees game (value: $650).