Sam Anzai’s first goal as a Vernon Viper was a game-winner.
Anzai, 19, a native of Los Angeles acquired earlier in the week in a future considerations deal with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Drayton Valley Thunder, scored the only goal Vernon would need in a 4-0 road win over the Trail Smoke Eaters in B.C. Hockey League action in front of 2,231 fans Friday at Cominco Arena.
The two points vaulted Vernon (18-6-0-4) into first place in the Interior Conference and overall standings, one point ahead of the Smokies (19-7-1-0).
Vernon played in West Kelowna Saturday while Trail travelled to Merritt.
Anzai scored unassisted at 13:51 of the opening period. Michael Young gave the Vipers a cushion with his fourth of the year on a powerplay at 7:39 of the middle frame, set up by Jimmy Lambert and Michael Ufberg.
Bret Stapley (15th) and Josh Prokop (10th) added third period insurance.
Anthony Yamnitsky made 28 saves for his second shutout, improving his record to 8-5-0. His 1.99 goals against average is the same as Nanaimo’s Taz Burman, tied for best in the league.
Tanner Marshall made 36 saves in goal for Trail.
In the Kootenay International Hockey League Friday, it was a nice homecoming for Vernon products Kaden Black and Conor Webb.
Black scored both goals and Webb made 31 saves as the Chase Heat defeated the North Okanagan Knights 2-0 at the Nor-Val Sports Centre in Armstrong.
Black opened the scoring with 6:18 left in the second period, then added the insurance at 4:50 of the third. Black has 15 goals this season, second-best on the team.
Webb, backed up by fellow Vernon product Billy Cawthorn, improved to 6-3, blanking his former team for his second shutout of the season.
Zach Willms made 32 saves for the Knights (6-14-1-3), who took on the Princeton Posse (10-9-1-3) Saturday at Nor-Val.