Last leg of regular season

Colton Davies

Don't blink or you might miss the last stretch of the Penticton Vees regular season.

The Vees play seven games in 12 nights, beginning on Valentine's Day when they host the Coquitlam Express. 

Wednesday's game will be the first of a home-and-home with the Express. The two teams haven't yet played this season but could be in each other's faces a lot in the coming weeks, as there's a good chance they will be first-round opponents in the BCHL playoffs.

"You might see them in the playoffs, you might not. So you have to take advantage and make sure you play the right way," Vees head coach, general manager and president Fred Harbinson said.

Both Dakota Boutin and Nick Leivermann will return to the Vees lineup on Wednesday. Leivermann missed the past 14 games and was second in team scoring before getting hurt. Boutin, meanwhile, sat out for nine games, and remains fourth in team scoring despite his absence.

The Vees will hope their home-and-home with Coquitlam is to the tune of their home-and-home series they had with the Trail Smoke Eaters last week.

Penticton started with a 5-1 win in Trail on Wednesday before a 3-0 shutout win on Friday at home.

"I thought we strung six real strong periods together, starting in their building and carrying over to ours," Harbinson said, adding he thought both of his goalies, Nolan Hildebrand on Wednesday and Adam Scheel on Friday, "played real well."

The weekend ended on a sour note, however, as the Vees dropped a 5-2 decision at home to the Vernon Vipers — a battle of the BCHL's top-two teams.

Those two teams won't see each other again in the regular season, but will likely be watching each other as they jockey for the league's top spot. The Wenatchee Wild, who had the best regular season record last year, are also in the mix for first place with 73 points, two back of Vernon and Penticton.

After two games against Coquitlam this week, the Vees will wrap up a stretch of four games in five nights when they play in Langley on Saturday and Surrey on Sunday.

"We have to play our best hockey now going into playoffs," Harbinson said.

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