Nicholas Cherkowski buried the tying goal with 1.2 seconds to play as the Nixon Wenger Jets earned a 5-5 draw with the Vernon Fix-It Auto Predators in Pee Wee Tier 3 Invitational Hockey Tournament action Friday afternoon at Civic Arena.
The hard-hitting Predators came out with something to prove, leading the Jets 3-1 at the halfway point on goals by Stephane Richard (2), who ended the night with a hat trick, and Mika Burns. Richard bagged his first goal on a breakaway set up by Joe Eggert. Brayden Jones and Drayden Dougan also drew assists.
Cherkowski had the first goal for the Jets, who tied it 3-3 later in the second on singles from Coleton Bilodeau and Joshua Bridge.
Both goaltenders – the Jets’ Jaden Jensen-Hunter (22 saves) and Predators’ Ethan Huizinga (36 saves) – made key saves to keep their respective teams in the game.
Later in the day, Kieran Watts recorded 17 saves for the shutout as the Jets iced the Salmon Arm Silvertips 3-0.
A single by Jaxon Cummings gave Vernon the lead heading into the third period, where Kyle Sherwood and Finnian O’Keefe scored to ensure the win.
Other Pee Wee tournament action saw the Kelowna Rockets and South Okanagan Jr. Coyotes play to a 5-5 tie, and the North Kamloops Elk ground the Merritt Jr. Centennials 9-7.
The final is slated for 6 p.m. tonight at Civic.
Meanwhile, Okanagan Hockey Academy broke a scoreless tie late in the first period and went on to beat the Vernon Home Building Centre Vipers 4-1 in Midget Tier 1 play Friday night at Civic.
The Penticton-based team, coached by former NHLer Tim Hunter, scored twice more in the second frame before the Vipers finally hit the back of the net on a powerplay. Wyatt Bonneau, from Austin Krahn and Austin Garrington, flipped a puck over the OHA goalie and the home team gained the momentum for the rest of the period, including several good scoring opportunities. However, OHA scored again halfway through the final frame to secure the victory.
The Vipers travel to Kelowna to play Pursuit of Excellence at Prospera Place this afternoon.
n Friday night at Priest Valley Arena, the Vernon Machine Vipers stuffed Salmon Arm 5-3 in Bantam Tier 3 action.
Scoring for Vernon were Josh DeCoffe, unassisted, Bryce Pyle, from Gage Kopp and Colton Skead, Alex Richardson, from Colton Skead, Pyle, with the winner assisted by Austin Dixon, and Dixon, on a pass from Bryton Stead.
The Machine crew hosts Merritt today at 1 p.m. at Priest Valley.
The Watkin Motors Tier 1 Mustangs faced some powerhouse teams in the Abbotsford Pee Wee Thanksgiving Tournament.
The tournament was a qualifier for the prestigious Quebec Pee Wee Tournament.
Vernon opened with a 4-3 loss to Chilliwack with goals coming from Levi Danbrook, Reed Cashato and Matt Kowalski. Goalie Conor Webb was named game MVP.
The Mustangs then bowed 4-1 to Coquitlum with Kowalski taking a feed from Brady Marzocco and scoring on a breakaway wrister. Player of the game was goalie Shane Meadahl.
North Shore Winter Club then ambushed the Mustangs 13-1 with Connor Johnston scoring off a scramble created by the speed of game MVP Austin Caldwell.
The Mustangs finished the tournament with a 8-0 loss to Kelowna.
Said head coach Jason Danbrook: “The weekend has shown the players what the highest Tier 1 Pee Wee hockey is like in B.C. Now as a team, we know where the bar is. There were lots of moments, as a team, we can build on.”