Penticton Vees hone in on power play, face Vernon Vipers

Penticton Vees prepare to tangle with BCHL Interior Division rival Vernon Vipers at the SOEC on Friday.

For the last five games, the Penticton Vees’ power play has been a little less than dangerous, scoring twice on 21 tries. An efficiency rate under 10 per cent highlights the need for special attention, especially with the Vernon Vipers in town on Friday (7 p.m. start).

“Some of the stuff we’ve done in practice the last couple days is about trying to create offence,” said Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson, who was pleased with the work ethic of his players. “Obviously on the power play, the last time we were at home we were two-out-of-three, which is good. The next night (Oct. 19 against the Langley Rivermen) we had some good looks, just couldn’t score (0-for-7) and that’s probably the difference in a 1-1 game.”

The coaches want to find ways to spread out scoring. Harbinson feels his players have had good chances during the five-game stretch and told the players they are getting enough goals to win.

“That’s all that matters,” said Harbinson. “I don’t want to be a team that scores five and loses. We’re not going to compromise the way we want to play to try to score more goals. If there are ways we can sort of tweak our game, to create scoring chances, that’s what we will do.”

Harbinson, whose team is first in the Interior Division at 10-3-1-1, said the BCHL is so tight right now that there isn’t a lot of room on the ice and there are no easy plays or goals. It will not get easier against the Vipers (9-5-1-2), who have won six of their last seven games.

“They are resurging right now, big time,” said Harbinson, whose team climbed to eighth from 12th in the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings as of Oct. 21. “This is a big game for us. We don’t play at home for another 22 days in between.”

Harbinson said the Vipers, who are playing with more passion up front, have more skill and look better than when the two teams last met in Vernon on Sept. 25, with the Vipers winning 3-1.

This is a meeting Vees assistant captain Travis Blanleil is excited about.

“I just love the rivalry, love the hatred that both teams have for each other,” said Blanleil. “I love being a part of it, kind of sparking it. Getting under some guys’ skin. We play these guys a lot. Get some guys to hate me.”

On Saturday, the Vees travel to Salmon Arm to play the Silverbacks in the Shaw Centre.

Vees notes: Hockey Canada announced its roster for the Canada West selection camp for the upcoming World Junior A Challenge. Of the 66 players invited to Calgary Oct. 26 to 30, 27 BCHL players representing 13 teams have been invited. Going from the Vees are defenceman Brett Beauvais, Paul Stoykewych and Alexandre Coulombe. Penticton’s Adam Plante of the West Kelowna Warriors is also among the defenceman.

Penticton Western News