Penticton Vees finding positives in their BCHL pod season, happy to be back in the game

Vees talk pod season pluses

Casey Richardson

Eat, sleep and hockey are all that is on the schedule for the Penticton Vees right now, having kicked off their BCHL pod season over the weekend.

“It's been such a hard and long process just to stay positive over the last couple of months, but now that we’re playing games it’s just super exciting and I know everyone’s been waiting on this opportunity for so long,” Finlay Williams, captain of the Vees said.

Not playing a game against another team for the past five months had the team ready to jump back in, but not without some players feeling a little rusty.

“It was kind of shocking, I kind of forgot how hard hockey was in a game,” forward Vees player Jacob Quillan said with a laugh.

However, that didn’t impact their ability to play well in the first two games, winning both by a few goals.

While the restrictions with playing this season don’t let the players venture outside the rink and their billet homes, they say it’s actually bringing them closer as a team.

“In a way, I was telling somebody, that it’s good that it's restricted to the rink and the billets, it gives us more time to spend with each other at the rink and in our dressing room,” Williams added.

The team has been taking their limited freedom and using it to their advantage with team-building games and hangouts, with masks and safety protocols in place.

“We’re not hanging outside the rink, so a lot of guys are kind of just hanging around the rink afterwards, enjoying ourselves, playing cards or some soccer,” Quillan said.

Keeping that energy and comradery up translates to the ice too.

“I think it's important that we’re talking and communicating, being really loud on our bench. Playing with lots of energy because I think that rubs off on the team,” Williams said.

The team is exclusively playing the Trail Smoke Eaters and Cranbrook Bucks for the next 20 games and they are hoping to bring home nothing but wins.

Williams explained that it’s a balance of not looking at past wins or loses and just focusing on the present game.

“What's going to give us the best success and I just think taking it one game at a time if we can go into every game like it’s our last.”

Even with only cutouts of fans in the stands right now, the team says they continue to feel the community support on their side.

“People reach out to us every day, we’re sending our thanks. We have a lot of people making donations to keep the community running. We’re really thankful or that because without them we probably wouldn't have a season,” Quillan said.

Williams added that even though he hasn’t been able to play with fans in the stands yet as a Vee, he can tell how passionate the community is.

The Vees face off against the Trail Smoke Eaters on Thursday night with the puck drop slated for 6 p.m.

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