Help on the way for Vees

Colton Davies

Despite five-straight losses for the Penticton Vees and a handful of long-term injuries plaguing the lineup, the team expects to slowly add as they enter a new calendar year.

The team will have the service of 19-year-old defender Michael Campoli beginning on Friday, who will make his Vees debut against the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Campoli was signed on Dec. 19 by Penticton, and comes out of Boston College's NCAA Division I hockey program.

Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson said Campoli has looked as advertised at practice, since joining the team on Sunday.

"Great kid, well put together as far as his conditioning goes. Even though he hasn't played in a while I think he's going to be an outstanding addition for us," Harbinson said.

Campoli didn't suit up for Boston College in the 2017-18 season before leaving, and only played in four games during the 2017 calendar year. 

Chris Klack, one of the Vees' 20-year-olds and assistant captains, could be back in the lineup as soon as next week. He last played on Nov. 4 against Powell River and suffered an injury in practice a few days later.

Klack returned to town this week to rejoin his teammates on the ice. 

Harbinson said there's a good chance he could play as soon as next Wednesday, when the team hosts the Merritt Centennials.

"It was just great having a little ray of positivity come in with a guy who's one of our captains on our team... He's excited about being back, the guys really loved having him on the ice today."

The news is welcoming for the Vees, who recently found out that Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Ryan O'Connell likely won't play for Penticton again this season after suffering a broken arm last month.

O'Connell as well as Grant Cruikshank could be out all year for the Vees with injuries. Cassidy Bowes also remains on the shelf.

But while the Vees add a pair of older players in the next couple weeks in Campoli and Klack, they will also have a boost of playing four-straight games at the South Okanagan Events Centre to begin 2018.

After hosting a red-hot Spruce Kings team on Friday, the Vees will host the Wenatchee Wild on Saturday.

The Vees dropped a pair of games in Wenatchee last weekend — falling 6-3 on Dec. 29 before a 3-1 setback on Dec. 30.

The second in the doubleheader saw a controversial disallowed goal for Penticton, late in the third period, which would have tied the game at 2-2. Wenatchee scored an empty-netter minutes later for the 3-1 final.

"We've had some tough games recently as far as the outcome. And then you battle hard to tie the game up. By no means did the referees intentionally do it. It was a mistake at the wrong time for us," Harbinson said.

Following this weekend, the Vees will host the Centennials and the Trail Smoke Eaters, on Jan. 10 and 12, respectively, on the second half of their four-game home stand.  

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