Rockets, Demons shine

Tyler Hamilton of the Vernon M&K Ready-Mix Red Demons spins away from Bradley Halvorson of the Vernon Ice Rockets in Atom Super League hockey action last Saturday at the Civic Arena. - Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star
Tyler Hamilton of the Vernon M&K Ready-Mix Red Demons spins away from Bradley Halvorson of the Vernon Ice Rockets in Atom Super League hockey action last Saturday at the Civic Arena.
— image credit: Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star

The Vernon Ice Rockets stopped the first-place North Okanagan White Knights 6-2 in North Okanagan Atom Super Hockey League action at the Nor-Val Sports Centre in Armstrong.

Outshot by a wide margin, Vernon relied on lights-out goaltending by Eric Foufoulas at one end and laser-like sniping at the other to hand the White Knights their first loss of the season.

Ice Rockets’ d-man Zac Funk threaded a cross-seam pass to Ben Reinhardt, who fired on net and Liam Reid poked in the rebound. Peppering the Vernon net, the Knights finally were rewarded on a rebound a few minutes into the second period.

Later in the frame, Sapien Joe advanced the puck to Liam Remple, who set up Shaun Huizinga for a shot from the high slot, beating the keeper low to the stick side.

Five minutes into the third period, Reid and Ben Reinhardt combined again for some insurance. On a 2-on-1, Reid fed Reinhardt but his shot deflected behind the net. Reid swept around the goal, and banked one in off the startled netminder.

Later, Remple led a rush up the left wing, leaving the puck for Quinn Soon at the North Okanagan line. Weaving in, Soon beat two defenders before firing a shot in over the goalie’s short-side pad.

North Okanagan got one back, but then Huizinga and Chris Reinhardt, who were feeding their teammates all game, combined to set up Joe in the high slot. Joe’s turnaround shot found the five-hole.

With seconds remaining, Chris Reinhardt carried the puck out of his zone and dished to Derek Pereboom on the right wing. Pereboom, who earned Vernon’s Mr. Big Award, ripped a 50-foot wrister between the goalie’s pads.

Rocket Robyn Alexis was also key to the win, digging determinedly, clearing her zone, and stealing the puck with a strong stick.

The story of the game, however, was Ice Rocket goalie Foufoulas, who unblinkingly stared down a bunch of breakaways and a barrage of rubber. Using every body part and bit of gear, game MVP Foufoulas stymied North Okanagan shooters 30 times.

In exhibition action at the Civic, the Ice Rockets grounded the Mighty Ducks, 9-2.

Reid and Maddex Minard powered the Rockets with hat tricks, while Funk (2+1) and Huizinga also found the net. Soon provided two helpers.

Maisun Ang-Hamilton and Cody Beckner replied for the Ducks.

In other Atom action, the M&K Ready-Mix Demons upended the Ice Rockets 7-3 behind four goals by Kevin Morgan.

The rest of the Demon goals came from Ryan Vandesande, Gage Stoll and Chris Bond, with assists going to Ronan Bedard (2), Jordyn Morris, Ty Louis and Taylor Halloran. Stoll’s insurance goal, which put the Demons up 5-3, was M&K’s team’s first powerplay goal of the season.

“We got off to a bit of a slow start,” said Demons’ coach Mike Stoll. “But overall, we played a very sound positional game and the defence stood up well in front of solid goaltending by Kassidy Schaper-Kotter. The Rockets are a very strong team so it was sure nice to have this win going into the holiday break.”

The Watkin Motors Mustangs jumpstarted their Pee Wee Tier 1 weekend with a 3-0 victory over the Penticton Jr. Vees Friday night at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna.

Nick Cherkowski opened the scoring early in the first with a deflection of Juli Gilowski’s point shot.

In the third, Joe Eggert, assisted by Colton Schaper-Kotter and Cherkowski, beat the Penticton goalie glove side. Minutes later, offensive MVP Cherkowski picked up a Dylan Sedlacek pass inside the blueline, beat the oncoming winger, sidestepped a d-man, head-faked the goalie and slid the puck in the far side. Logan Higgs recorded the shutout for defensive MVP.

The Okanagan Rockets lost 4-3 to the Saskatoon Contacts Friday morning in the 35th Mac’s Midget AAA World Invitational Hockey Tournament at Max Bell Centre in Calgary.

The Rockets, who have Vernon forwards Dennon Leibel and Spencer Hewson in their Major Midget lineup, trailed 2-1 and 3-2 by periods.

Josh Blanchard (2) and Justin Marreck scored for the Rockets, who got two assists from Liam Finlay. Jesse Shynkaruk (2), Wyatt Sloboshan and Terrell Draude supplied goals for the Contacts, who improved to 2-1 in Pool 5.

Brock Hamm made 21 saves for the win, while Reid Kilburn blocked 11 shots in the loss.

The Rockets dipped to 1-2 and finish preliminary play today at noon against the UFA Bisons of Calgary at Father David Bauer Arena.

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