Riding on top of an impressive ongoing win streak, the Penticton Vees are gearing up for the next phase of the Interior Conference Finals.
The Vees are facing off in their first game Friday night against the Salmon Arm Silverback.
Head coach Fred Harbinson said on Thursday after practice that there is excitement and anticipation ahead of the game.
Penticton has now won 23 games in a row, dating back to Feb. 10, and has won 24 straight playoff games since April 1, 2022.
“When you put in the work throughout the season, it's like studying for a test, right? You feel prepared, and you just feel a lot more like you've got things covered going into your next sort of challenge,” Harbinson said.
“We're proud of our regular season. We're proud of the first few rounds of the playoffs but you know what, Salmon Arm had a great year, all the four teams that are left standing have had a great year, and everybody's fighting for the same thing.”
The goal for the Vees remains plain and simple, to win the championship.
“We want to do that without compromising player development,” Harbinson added. “We're a developmental league, and our guys have gotten better. Even though we came out of the gates and won a bunch of games right off the hop, I think, if you asked our guys, I think individually, every single guy here has had an experience where they've seen a growth in their game.”
Thirteen Vees’ players will be returning to the playoff rounds this year, having been on the team for last year’s success.
But preparing for this next round, Harbinson said, comes down to tackling everything in the present.
“It's not about getting wrapped up in, you know who your opponent is, it's not about getting wrapped up in how fast you can win this series….Every day is the day that you have to worry about and not worry about the one next.”
The team hopes to see home ice packed with fans to make the players feel supported.
“It's easy to get complacent and think, 'Hey, we've been here before,' and we've won so many games,” Harbinson said. “Just want to see the building full and in loud and, you know, being a kind of a seventh man on the ice for us.”
Friday morning, the players will meet up for a meeting and then be hitting the ice for an early morning skate as usual in their pre-game routine.
The Vees face Salmon Arm at the SOEC Friday night, with the puck drop at 7 p.m.