Special teams carried the Vernon Home Building Centre Vipers to the Okanagan Mainline Midget Tier 2 Hockey Association banner.
And head coach Jared Barendregt expects his powerplay and penalty kill to flourish at the B.C. championships, starting this morning in Port Coquitlam against Vancouver. The Vipers boast more than just sweet special teams.
“We rely a lot on our speed,” said the 24-year-old bench boss. “Our speed kills. We like making their dee work hard trying to
get out of their end.”
Vernon faces the Castlegar Rebels and the Port Moody Panthers in Monday preliminary action at the Wilson Centre Arena before meeting Williams Lake Timberwolves Tuesday morning. The Vipers finish the round-robin Wednesday against Peninsula Eagles of Sidney and Port Coquitlam Pirates.
The Snakes lost to Williams Lake in the final of the Kamloops tournament and lost to host Penticton in preliminary play at their first tourney of the season. Vernon has defeated PoCo in tourney play.
Kieran Watts and Tyler Sedlacek share the goaltending with whoever’s hot getting the start. Captain Dylan Sedlacek anchors the defensive corps, while roadrunners Connor Johnston, Kyle Sherwood, Joe Eggert, Eric Noren and Mica Burns provide skill and leadership up front. Sherwood and d-man Grady Caton also saw time with the KIJHL North Okanagan Knights, while Johnston and Noren were summoned by the Revelstoke Grizzlies, this season.
“The mood in the room is good,” said Barendregt, assisted by Jim Armstrong and Hayden Chase. “They know if they show up and play well, we’ll have success.”
Half of the Viper roster ages out and Barendregt says several players have the grit and moxy to play Junior B or A hockey.
Vernon claimed the Okanagan title at 14-2 while surrendering just 33 goals. They swept Kamloops and Kelowna in the playoffs.