The Penticton Vees learned a lot about themselves while sweeping the Bandits in Brooks.
“We’re highly skilled. We can score goals,” said newly minted assistant captain Jonny Tychonick. “We can’t give up. We have a different team than last year. This team is exciting. It’s been very good.”
Taylor Ward, also named an assistant captain with Tychonick, said they are a smart team that adapts well. He feels they are further ahead than last season’s Vees. Vees head coach-general manager Fred Harbinson liked what he saw from the players, and not because the team won both games in Alberta. It was they way they played.
“The intensity, the emotional aspect of it, going on the road,” explained Harbinson. “It was a good environment to really press our guys. For a lot of the new guys to understand what real junior A hockey looks like. It was their whole lineup, both nights. It was great to see our guys elevate our game.”
Friday, the Vees, ranked No.1 in Canada in the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s preseason rankings, kick of the B.C. Hockey League’s 56th season in Merritt at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Harbinson said it is hard to get players ready for that game. He warns them about the smaller rink and that everything happens fast.
“You make one mistake and the opposition is right on top of your net,” said Harbinson. “The first couple weeks is always about trying to work on the way we want to play, our structure.”
Ward said it is just about preparing for the smaller rink.
|Dakota Boutin, recently acquired from the Melfort Mustangs of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, begins a drill during Penticton Vees practice on Wednesday. Emanuel Sequeira/Western News|
“It just comes down to executing our game plan is crucial, but it’s the first game of the season,” he said. “There is bound to be mistakes. We’re just going to grow, learn from it, whether we win or lose, we’re going to learn from the game and just keep moving forward.
On Wednesday the Vees added another piece to their group with the signing of Henry Enebak.
“The addition of Henry brings another big body (5-11, 190 pounds) that plays a two-way game,” Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson said. “Henry is a former captain who checks out as a great character kid.”
The Prior Lake, Minn., product spent the last four seasons playing in the United States High School league, putting up 85 goals and 93 assists in 157 games. He played in two of the prestigious Minnesota State high school tournaments, scoring twice with four assists in eight games. Enebak has a scholarship to St. Cloud State University for the fall of 2019.
Harbinson said Eneback possesses a heavy shot. His addition will push the competition within the Vees roster for a spot in the lineup.
“One of the things we learned a year ago is our competition within our own group really pushed our guys,” said Harbinson. “We constantly had guys in and out of the lineup that contributed. I think we have 14 forwards that can all bring something to the table. I think we’re going to be a team that will rely on its depth and its speed and it has been a recipe for success in the past.”
Enebak will wear No. 25 and make his Vees debut Friday when the regular season begins in Merritt.
Vees forward Shane Allan is injured and has been placed on the injured reserve.
The CJHL preseason rankings are based upon a variety of factors, which includes the league in which the teams belong to, last season’s results in regular season and playoffs as well as initial recruiting efforts for the upcoming season.
The Vees have rival packs available at their office, which can be ordered by contacting Laura Carleton. Five regular season games against the Vees biggest rivals, including the home opener Sept. 29 against West Kelowna and the rematch of last year’s Fred Page Cup final against Chilliwack Nov. 25, for just $59. And receive a free $10 gift card to the Vees store, the Blue Zone. 250-493-8337 ext. 4.