The Penticton Vees are on fire in BCHL preseason action.
After shellacking the West Kelowna Warriors 9-1 on Wednesday night, the Vees are undefeated so far in preseason, having won their first five straight.
“For this time of the year, I couldn’t have been happier,” Vees general manager and head coach Fred Harbinson said of the one-sided win.
But going into his 13th season as Penticton’s bench boss, Harbinson knows it’s early to be making plans for a parade.
“We want to compete for a championship,” said Harbinson. “We are in a great league, we are in a great division. It’s never easy, there’s going to be a lot of obstacles in our way.”
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Winning is a huge part of the Vees’ culture, and a quick canvas of fans at Wednesday night’s Warriors game shows fan expectations are reflective of exactly that.
“I’ve been a Vees fan for years and we always end up on top and we are hoping for the same this year,” Glen Snider said.
“I’d like to see a big team this year, hopefully going to play some aggressive hockey,” Jim Cleghorn said.
“We haven’t had a power play in years and I just would like to see a better power play,” David McPherson said.
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The Vees are never a one-man show, but there is one player this season who will definitely have an impact on the man advantage.
Philadelphia Flyers first round draft pick Jay O’Brien is expected to lead the Vees offensively in 2019-20. The 19-year-old center already has five points in two preseason games.
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“I think I’m a two-way center man,” said O’Brien. “Use some grit here and there, but mainly use my skill to make plays and create offence.”
O’Brien credits the Vees’ reputation as the reason why he chose to play in Penticton, a decision that was driven in part by the Flyers.
“Brent Hextall, actually he played here and is one of the player development guys in Philly,” said O’Brien. “And he said if you are going to go this route, you should play in Penticton.”
The Vees open their season on the road with back to back games in Trail, Sept. 6-7.