They tweaked their forward lines and the moves worked wonders for the Vernon Vipers Friday night in Victoria.
Three lines made the stats page as the Snakes dispatched the Grizzlies 5-2 in B.C. Hockey League play before 1,035 fans at the Q Centre. It was Victoria’s home opener and they raised their Island Division banner from last year.
“We’re fortunate we can flip flop guys and still win hockey games,” said Viper assistant coach Kevin Kraus. “Their seemed to be more chemistry and creativity with all four lines. Just having a different look changed the dynamics for everybody.”
Jordan Sandhu replaced Tanner Wishnowski on the first line with Jimmy Lambert and Brett Stapley and Sandhu responded with his first snipe as a Viper. Stapley drew the assist on the game’s opening goal, at 8:29 of the first period.
Wishnowski moved over to a unit with Keyvan Mokhtari and Alex Swetlikoff and earned second star with 1+1.
Captain Jagger Williamson played with Jesse Lansdell and Josh Prokop, while Coleton Bilodeau went up the middle with Finn Evans and Niko Karamanis.
“I thought we controlled the play for the majority of the game,” said Kraus. “They scored on a couple of chances to keep it close at the time. We were finally able to capitalize on our chances which we didn’t do at the Showcase. Considering the travel days, we had good pace and our discipline was much better.”
D-man Chris Jandric, Prokop and d-man Michael Young rounded out the Vernon offence. Stapley finished with three helpers in support of Ty Taylor (22 saves). The Vipers went 2-for-5 on the powerplay.
Justin Michaelian and Timothy Friedmann replied for the 4-3 Grizzlies, who got 29 saves from Zachary Rose.
The Vipers improved to 5-1-0-1 for a share of first place in the Interior Division with the Trail Smoke Eaters. Vernon take on the Nanaimo Clippers tonight at Frank Crane Arena and face the Surrey Eagles Sunday, 4 p.m.
Forwards Adam Panacci and Connor Marritt, along with D Mitch Andres, were healthy scratches for Vernon.
Meanwhile, the Penticton Vees remained the only undefeated team in the BCHL with a 2-1 win over the West Kelowna Warriors before 3,675 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Penticton (5-0) hosts the Vipers Friday and the teams play again Saturday night at Kal Tire Place.
Kale Howarth, a Columbus Blue Jacket draft, pulled the hat trick as the Smoke Eaters ambushed the Chilliwack Chiefs 7-3 before 1,753 fans at Cominco Arena.
The Salmon Arm Silverbacks upended the Coquitlam Express 5-3 before 845 supporters at the Shaw Centre, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs clipped the visiting Clippers 5-4 in front of 1,111 fans at Weyerhaeuser Arena and Surrey grounded the Prince George Spruce Kings 4-1 before 946 fans at Surrey Arena.
In Wenatchee, Jasper Weatherby supplied 3+2 as the Wild torched the Cowichan Valley Capitals 11-1 before 2,493 fans at the Town Toyota Center.