The H&L Glass Vipers finally solved the North Okanagan Junior Knights 4-3 in a riveting Atom C hockey showdown Saturday at Enderby Arena.
After North Okanagan rolled out to a 2-0 lead, Vernon’s Maddex Minard picked off a cross-ice pass at his own line and broke away. Fighting off fierce back pressure, Minard coolly lifted the puck over the goalie’s right shoulder, finding the net for the fifth straight game. With the Knights pushing for insurance on a late powerplay, Viper rearguard Quinn Soon cleared the puck off the goal line as time wound down.
Vernon pulled even midway through the second after Minard deflected Soon’s point shot to a wide-open Chris Bond in front. Emma Elders’ line followed with a game-changing shift. Operating behind the net, the slippery Nick Noren set up Cash Anderson, who put the go-ahead goal upstairs in a hurry. A minute later, puckhound Elders picked a Knight pocket down low. Noren stuffed home Elders’ centering pass to give H&L Glass a 4-2 advantage.
Limited to nine shots through two periods, the Knights’ offence ignited in the third. Four minutes in, North Okanagan got one back, setting up a nail-biting finish. The game could easily have slipped away for the Vernonites if not for the lights-out goaltending of Teja Sheldrake. Fourteen times he stoned North Okanagan shooters in the final frame. Facing a late 5-on-3 power play, Vernon defenders Adam Bourgeois, Liam Remple and Braden Schmiegelt came through with a mammoth kill.
In Atom A action, the Valley Wood Remanufacturing Vipers tied first-place Kamloops 6-6 at Valleyview Arena and drew 3-3 with Kelowna #2 at Kal Tire Place. Porter Trevelyan, Jacob Boden and Cody Beckner scored Sunday in Vernon with game MVP Cayden Hamming recording several big saves.
The Vipers played their hearts out Saturday in Kamloops with game MVP Jakob Jones jumpstarting the offence on a breakaway after a quick feed by Zack Funk. Bennett Kuhnlein took a couple of whacks at a loose puck for Vernon’s second goal, set up by Funk. Kuhnlein set up the third snipe by Beckner.
Net detective Owen Swiscoski made some fantastic glove saves to keep things close. Boden added two goals, on assists by Austin Roest and Connor Elliot, while d-man Steele Quiring moved up to forward to put Vernon up by a goal with a minute remaining.