Morning Star Staff
Not since the Vernon Vipers buried 14 goals on Laurent Brossoit and the Cowichan Valley Capitals a few years ago has Kevin Kraus seen the Vipers explode like they did Friday night.
Down 5-1 after 20 minutes, the Vipers rallied for a stunning 10-5 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in a zany B.C. Hockey League tilt at the Shaw Centre.
The Silverbacks (24-11-2-2) welcomed B.C. Lions’ star linebacker Adam Bighill as a special guest and the move backfired with the Vipers ringing up football-like numbers, including a touchdown of goals in the second period.
“The guys were super stoked after this win, our first against a team ahead of us in the division,” said Kraus, Viper assistant coach. “We knew this team had the skill to play like this and they finally showed us.”
Kraus said the Vipers basically took a seat in the first period, getting just four shots and showing no compete.
“We challenged them (at break) to play for pride and the logo and the name on the back of their jerseys and stop embarrasing themselves,” said Kraus. “They came out hard and we were aggressive in the offensive zone and got traffic in front of (Angus) Redmond which we’ve never done against Salmon Arm or any other team all year. We backchecked and forechecked hard; it was a complete 40-minute game.”
While Brossoit, an NHL draft, refused to come out of the crease with Cowichan, the Vipers chased the all-star Redmond after going in front 6-5 on Odeen Tufto’s goal at 9:34 of the second, on the powerplay. Tufto finished with 3+2, while linemate Jimmy Lambert added 2+2.
Vernon finished the last 40 minutes without forwards Christian Cakebread and Hunter Zandee, both battling a flu big which hit the team last week.
Liam Finlay and Ben Butcher, each with 1+2, Jagger Williamson, d-man Darren Rizzolo and Charley Michalowski completed the Viper offence in front of Brendan Barry. D-men Mitchell Oliver and Bo Pellah each provided two assists.
Butcher’s powerplay goal midway through the first period was pretty much all the Vipers got right in the session.
Elijiah Barriga, Jared Turcotte and Ross Heidt put the Silverbacks ahead 3-0 at six minutes before Butcher answered. Chase Ziesky added goals four minutes apart to finish the opening period.
Brandon Kegler relieved Redmond and let in third-period goals by Tufto (20th) and Michalowski (2nd).
The Vipers went 4-for-7 on the powerplay, while the Silverbacks were 0-for-1.
Vernon is 18-23-0-3, two points ahead of the fifth-place Trail Smoke Eaters, 9-4 losers to the West Kelowna Warriors.
The Smokies lost 2-0 to Prince George Spruce Kings Thursday night.