More than 3,400 kilometres away from his home in Texas, Thomas Aldworth was bearing a bike chain necklace that UFC fighter Rampage Jackson would have been proud of and celebrating a win with his new teammates.
Aldworth’s two goals and one assist carried the Vernon Vipers to a 4-2 victory over the Salmon Arm SilverBacks in B.C. Hockey League exhibition play Saturday night at Kal Tire Place.
“I was using my speed well on their deemen, driving wide and working with my linemates well tonight,” said the five-foot-11 Aldworth.
With the Vipers trailing by one in the second frame, Aldworth took a feed inside the blue line and ripped it blocker side, top shelf from inside the right faceoff dot.
Aldworth added an empty-netter and was awarded the player of the game bike chains by captain Riley Guenther after the game. The Snakes outshot the Backs 37-30.
“My linemates were great tonight, (Luke) Voltin and (Linden) Hora were great,” said Aldworth. “We are starting to come together as a team and hang out off the ice. It has been really fun so far.”
The Vipers responded from surrendering three third-period goals the night before as the SilverBacks iced the Snakes 3-2 in Salmon Arm.
“We simplified our game more tonight. We weren’t trying to go through guys at the offensive blue line, instead, we drove more pucks in deep and on the net,” said interim Vipers’ head coach Kevin Kraus.
Kraus was named the interim head coach on Monday following Jason Williamson’s departure from the organization for personal reasons.
Guenther was given credit for the game winner, but he admits that he was making his way off the ice when the puck went in.
“(Jake) Emilio actually scored the winner. I dumped the puck to Alds (Aldworth) and he cycled it, the puck got thrown on net and Emilio got a nice rebound in the slot and it went top corner,” said Guenther.
Local product Danny Todosychuk started between the pipes for the Vipers in his graduating year. After allowing a powerplay goal early in the first, Todosychuk stood tall the rest of the way with 30 saves.
The Vipers (2-1) are entering their third week of camp and the team is beginning to develop an identity with a few more roster selections to be made.
“We will be a lot different than last year,” said Guenther, who enters his second season with the Snakes. “We need to be a lot more simple this year and hard-working. Once we start to gel, we can be a bit more creative, but for now, we need to stick to the basics.”
The Snakes are close to figuring out their final roster. They released Matthew Jallbart, Kyle Tanev and Jordan Boulton. They have 24 players made up of 13 forwards, nine defencemen and a pair of goalies.
“We need to cut two more defencemen and I haven’t figured out what I am doing with that last forward spot,” said Kraus. “I’m not sure if the moves will be made this week or after the final two games.”