After a stunning early exit from the 2018-19 BCHL playoffs, Fred Harbinson and his staff have been looking forward to this day for five months.
Main training camp gets going Monday morning at the South Okanagan Events Centre with around 45 players suiting up, including members of the Anaheim Jr. Ducks under-18 team coached by August Aiken and former Vees defenceman T.J. Miller.
“It’s almost like we can’t wait to get the weekend over with,” said Harbinson, going into his 12th season of his successful tenure with Penticton. “Everyone is excited and ready to go. We’ve been ready for a while now.”
The players will be divided up into two groups. Along with the 22 regulars, there will be some affiliated players as well as members of the Ducks, who have been coming to the Vees camp for four years now.
Each group will practice at 10 and 11:30 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday, with classroom sessions at 2 p.m. and a scrimmage game between the two groups at 5 p.m.
On Wednesday, there will be a pre-game skate at 10 a.m. in anticipation of the first pre-season game at 7 p.m. against the Warriors at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna.
Harbinson said it will be primarily a rookie game with the APs and several members of the Ducks forming the Penticton lineup. The Ducks will be at the camp until Aug. 24.
On Thursday, there will be pre-game skates for each group at 10 and 11 a.m. leading up to the annual Peaches Cup intra-squad game at 5 p.m. Admission to the game is free.
On Friday, Aug. 23, there is a pre-game skate at 10 a.m. then the Vees play their first home pre-season game at 7 p.m. against the Merritt Centennials.
The Interior Division rivals do it all over again Sat., Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Nicola Valley Arena in Merritt.
After a team building session and billet barbecue on Sun., Aug. 25, camp activities resume Monday, Aug. 26.
The Vees continue their pre-season slate by hosting West Kelowna Aug. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the SOEC.
Penticton closes out the pre-season by welcoming the defending RBC Cup-champion Brooks Bandits to the SOEC for games Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 31 at 6 p.m.
The Vees begin the 58-game regular season schedule with a pair of road games against the Trail Smoke Eaters Sept. 6-7 at the Cominco Arena.
The Vees play their first six games on the road before their home opener Friday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. against West Kelowna.
NOTES: Vees F Lach Hadley was referred to as Calvin Hadley in a story in Thursday’s paper, while F Jack Barnes was referred to as Stu Barnes in a photo caption in Wednesday’s paper. The Herald regrets the errors.