Near-perfect Jan. for Vees

Colton Davies

Last season, January was a month to forget for the Penticton Vees when the team finished the month at a clip of 2-7-0-1.

This year, it's a far different script. The Vees were 9-1-0-1 in 11 games, losing only in their 11th and final game of the month.

Their 19 points this month helped catapult them to the top of the B.C. Hockey League standings, a spot they have retained now for close to two weeks. 

They also clinched a playoff spot on Jan. 13, and drew the largest attendance of any BCHL team this year when 4,342 fans came for Pink in the Rink night on Jan. 20.

"Much better than last year's January, that's for sure," Vees head coach, general manager and president Fred Harbinson said. 

"We've got 12 games to go before playoffs start, so we need to kind of reset now that we've had a loss. We've got three more big road games before we get to play at home."

With the Scotties Tournament of Hearts taking over the South Okanagan Events Centre, the Vees are in the middle of six-straight road games. 

That began with a trio of games on the coast last weekend. The team won 4-1 in Powell River on Friday, before a 4-3 double overtime win in Duncan on Saturday and a 6-3 loss in Victoria on Sunday.

After an off-day for players on Monday following a long travel weekend, the Vees now prepare for games on Friday in Merritt and on Saturday in Salmon Arm.

Penticton is 3-0 against the Silverbacks and 5-0 against the Centennials this year. Salmon Arm is sixth in the Interior division while Merritt is in seventh.

Harbinson acknowledged that the Silverbacks have won six straight games and the Cents, meanwhile, earned three out of four points in Wenatchee this past weekend.

"They're teams that (we) could play in the first round of the playoffs, you never know," Harbinson said.

If there's any consolation heading into February for the Vees, it's that they became healthier last week when veterans Michael Campoli and Taylor Ward returned to the lineup. 

Penticton will play seven of their final 12 games on the road, including four of the last six. The team's next home game is on Feb. 9 against Trail.

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