Vernon Vipers
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Head coach Jason Williamson goes over a drill with linemates Dexter Dancs (left) and Adam Tambellini at Vernon Viper practice Wednesday afternoon. The Snakes host the Merritt Centennials tonight at Wesbild Centre.
Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star

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Vernon Vipers roll into break with Cents set

With two veteran blueliners on the shelf, the Vernon Vipers will be relying on defence by committee this weekend.

The Snakes will be without injured captain Brett Corkey and second-year d-man Geoff Crisfield as they battle the Merritt Centennials in a B.C. Hockey League home-and-home set, starting tonight at Wesbild Centre. The 17-11-1-1 Cents host the 11-14-0-7 Vipers Saturday at Nicola Valley Arena.

Vernon head coach/GM Jason Williamson has called up Alex Gran from the Okanagan Rockets (Major Midget). He was hoping to bring up a second defender, but said it might be difficult given players’ Christmas travel schedules.

“We only had four dee for the third period against Penticton (last Friday) and they held them scoreless,” said Williamson.

“We’ve just got to make sure the forwards are coming back and making their job easier.”

Vernon is coming off a much-needed win over the Trail Smoke Eaters, and a couple wins would certainly send them into the Christmas break on a high.

“The guys have been jumping at practice this week so they’re ready to go,” said Williamson.

“We just need some guys to step up, be simple and play the right way.”

After the break, the Vipers will have 22 games to climb out of the Interior Division cellar and into a playoff spot.

The top four teams qualify for post-season play (No. 1 vs. No. 4, No. 2 vs. No. 3). Two best-of-seven series will be played to determine a conference champion. The Fred Page Cup finals will also be a best-of-seven series.

n In BCHL action Tuesday night, the host Smokies built a two-goal lead and hung on for a 4-2 win over the Cents at Cominco Arena.

Riley McDougall, at the 21-second mark, Jake Lucchini, Garrett McMullen and Adam Wheeldon handled the Trail attack.

Tyler Martin and Bennett Huber answered for Luke Pierce’s Centennials.

n The Salmon Arm SilverBacks continued their ongoing roster shuffle, sending forward Troy Petrick to the Battleford North Stars of the Saskatchewan Junior A loop in exchange for future considerations.

The ‘Backs also released backup keeper Dustin Nikkel, formerly of the North Okanagan Junior B Knights, for breaking team policy. They replaced him with 17-year-old Angus Redmond of the Port Moody Junior B Panthers.

n Vernon’s Curtis Lazar collected a goal and an assist as the Edmonton Oil Kings iced the host Calgary Hitmen 4-1 in WHL action Wednesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Lazar, 17, assisted on Henrik Samuelsson’s shorthanded equalizer in the second period before completing the offence with a powerplay snipe late in the third period.

He is fifth in team scoring with 15-11-26 in 35 games.

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