An old friend turned foe on the Vernon Vipers Wednesday.
Defenceman Mitch Andres, traded by the Vipers to the Chilliwack Chiefs at the B.C. Hockey League trade deadline Jan. 10, returned to Vernon and scored the third-period game-winner, as the Chiefs rallied to beat the Vipers 3-2 in front of 1,745 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Andres’ third goal of the season – and second since joining the league-leading Chiefs – beat Vernon goalie Aidan Porter at 11:31 of the final frame, with first star Jacques Bouquot and Carter Wilkie drawing assists. Andres was named third star.
Bouquot had tied the game on a powerplay with his ninth of the year at 7:11.
Lane Zablocki, the game’s second star, gave Vernon a 1-0 lead 6:45 after the national anthem with his fifth goal of the year, an unassisted effort.
Wilkie tied the game at 10:51, with Nathan Kelly drawing an assist.
Ben Sanderson scored his fourth of the year, from former Chief Jesse Lansdell, at 2:23 of the middle frame to give Vernon a 2-1 lead.
Porter finished with 26 saves while Chilliwack netminder Daniel Chenard made 37 saves.
The Chiefs swept the season series from Vernon, winning both games by a score of 3-2 and, in both contests, Chilliwack trailed 2-1 after 40 minutes.
The loss keeps Vernon (22-19-7-3) in fifth place in the Interior Division, one point behind the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and one ahead of the West Kelowna Warriors who now each have a game in hand on the Vipers.
Chilliwack (38-12-1-0) now has a seven-point lead on the Prince George Spruce Kings atop the Mainland Division.
The Vipers take on the Interior Division-leading Penticton Vees in a weekend home-and-home series which may require extra driving time for both teams if Highway 97 near Summerland remains closed due to a rock slide.
The two teams meet Friday in Penticton and return for the back end Saturday at 6 p.m. at Kal Tire Place. A special pre-game ceremony will be held Saturday as the Vipers honour the 1976-78 B.C. and Canadian senior B lacrosse champion Vernon Tigers with a special banner recognition ceremony.
A number of players from the Tigers will be introduced at centre ice and will drop the puck in a ceremonial faceoff.