Teddy Bear Toss, Wild week­end ahead for Vees

Home-and-home set starts be­low the border tonight, with Pen­tic­ton host­ing re­match Satur­day

Penticton Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By Pen­tic­ton Her­ald Staff

The Pen­tic­ton Vees are hot. The We­natchee Wild even hot­ter.

The In­te­rior Divi­sion ri­vals clash in a home-and-home se­ries tonight at 7:05 p.m. at the Town Toy­ota Cen­ter in We­natchee and Satur­day in the an­nual Teddy Bear Toss Night at the South Okana­gan Events Cen­tre at 6 p.m.

We­natchee (19-10-2) has won six straight and 10 of 11 to edge within three points of the first-place Vees in the In­te­rior.

The Vees (20-8-1-2) have won two in a row since a 4-2 loss in We­natchee on Nov. 28 and are 11-2-0-1 in their last 14.

But while the Wild come into this week­end al­most com­pletely healthy, the Vees are miss­ing eight reg­u­lars to in­jury, sus­pen­sion and the World Junior A Chal­lenge.

“We can’t worry about it, we’ve just got to play our game,” said Vees GM/head coach Fred Harbin­son. “We beat Vic­to­ria a few weeks ago ba­si­cally with only three de­fence­men and I doubt many peo­ple bet on us win­ning that one.

“These are all ex­pe­ri­ences that help you at the end of the day,” he added.

Harbin­son said the We­natchee trade­mark is to play fast.

“They do ev­ery­thing quick, they han­dle the puck re­ally well and make tape-to-tape passes,” he said. “The puck is mov­ing all the time. They’ve got a lot of skill.”

The Vees ad­vo­cate that style, too, though the short­age of man­power may re­quire some tweaks to the strat­egy.

With Cole Shep­ard re­turn­ing from the Canada West se­lec­tion camp and Kelowna Chiefs 18-year-old cen­tre Ryan Stack join­ing the Vees as an af­fil­i­ated player, Pen­tic­ton will have nine play­ers up front.

“We’re just try­ing to bal­ance three lines the best we can,” said Harbin­son.

On the blue line, the Vees are hop­ing to have 2000-born Kaden Moravek avail­able af­ter the Ab­bots­ford na­tive played three games as an AP for the Vees in Novem­ber.

Moravek is a big body at 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds with good mo­bil­ity.

“That would give us six guys back there,” said Harbin­son.

De­fence­man Ma­son Snell and for­wards Mas­simo Rizzo and David Si­lye made the Canada West team and will miss the next four Vees games. Harbin­son said Shep­ard had a ter­rific camp but is still only 16.

“I was dis­ap­pointed for Cole, but we talked about it (Thurs­day) . . . he did all he could,” said Harbin­son. “Ob­vi­ously he is a key player for us and he’s go­ing to be a big part of the Canada West squad next year.”

The Vees will also be with­out sus­pended for­ward Lukas Sillinger for the next four games, while the in­jury list in­cludes for­wards Bren­dan Har­ro­gate and Drew Elser and de­fence­men Peter Muzyka and Con­ner Hutchi­son — the lat­ter of whom is out for the sea­son with a torn knee lig­a­ment.

Harbin­son noted the de­fend­ing BCHL cham­pion Wild are within strik­ing dis­tance of the Vees for first place in the In­te­rior.

“It’s a huge week­end, ob­vi­ously,” he said. “There will be a lot of ex­cite­ment on Satur­day with the (Teddy Bear Toss) and ev­ery­thing. Our fans have been awe­some and we re­ally need them to get be­hind us for this one.”

Harbin­son said both vet­eran Jack La­Fontaine — who has car­ried the load in re­cent weeks — and rookie Derek Krall will get starts this week­end.

“We just haven’t de­cided who will start what game,” said Harbin­son. “Krall de­serves to play. He works so hard in prac­tice and he’s given us a chance to win ev­ery time he’s got a start.”

ICE CHIPS: In a mid­week game, the Ver­non Vipers (11-11-6-3) con­tin­ued their un­even play with a 2-1 loss in Prince Ge­orge. The sur­pris­ing Spruce Kings lead the league with 47 points — one more than Main­land Divi­sion ri­vals Chilli­wack . . . . An­other key game tonight has the West Kelowna War­riors host­ing the Mer­ritt Cen­ten­ni­als, with the War­riors vis­it­ing Ver­non on Satur­day . . . . The WJAC starts Sun­day in Bon­nyville, Alta., with five teams (Canada East, Canada West, U.S., Rus­sia and Czech Repub­lic) com­pet­ing in the an­nual com­pe­ti­tion that runs un­til Dec. 16. Canada West plays the U.S. in its first game Sun­day night in a re­match of last year’s fi­nal in Truro, Nova Sco­tia, that Canada West won 5-1. Canada West and Canada East meet on Mon­day night. The gold-medal game goes Dec. 16 at 3 p.m. PT.

Harbin­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.