Morning Star Staff
Connor Johnston pulled the hat trick Saturday as the Vernon Home Hardware Vipers grounded the Kamloops Blazers 7-3 in Okanagan Mainline Midget Tier 2 Rep Hockey Association play at McArthur Island Sports Centre’s NHL Arena.
It was almost a tale of two games as Kamloops scored on their first two shots, briefly chasing starter Isaac Walderamas in favor of Ty Sedlacek within the first minute of play.
Vernon continued its sloppy play over the next several minutes taking a penalty for interference at the 14:55 mark of the first. Walderamas was re-inserted after a shaky start on the ensuing penalty kill which Kamloops capitalized on making it 3-0 within the first 6:30.
A dislodged pane of glass behind the Blazer net from a hit thrown by Stephane Richard was exactly what the Vipers needed as they came out after the delay and took things over.
Johnston started the Vernon onslaught scoring one in off the post with six minutes left in the opening 20. Vernon then had a second goal called back as the net was dislodged by the Kamloops tender on a wraparound that beat him cleanly.
The Snakes started the second period down 3-1 but quickly erased that lead on goals from Richard and Johnston within the first four minutes. The Vipers took the lead permanently on the winning bar-down snipe by Caden Bracken at 5:40.
Dex Elders got in on the goal spree at 2:42 of the second and Johnston counted his hat trick marker with a few minutes left in the third, followed by Damian Coljee-Fehr’s goal with 37 seconds to play.
Riley Swiscoski was a strong physical presence and added three assists. Grady Caton, Kyle Sherwood, Joe Eggert, Eric Noren, Lee Christiansen, Lucas Wood and Bracken also earned helpers. Walderamaas settled in nicely after the third goal. Eggert and Johnston were relentless forechecking.
Vernon dispatched Central Zone (Kelowna) 4-1 Friday night in Rutland.
Johnston scored early after stealing a loose puck and then levelled the biggest Kelowna d-man with a solid check.
Richard made it 2-1 Vernon with a solo effort off the rush. Johnston scored his second goal on the powerplay with 47 seconds left in the second.
Damian Coljee-Fehr added an empty-netter and added one helper.
The Watkin Motors Mustangs swept the Trail Smoke Eaters 6-4 and 6-1 in Pee Wee Tier 2 league play at Cominco Arena.
On Saturday, the line of Jarred Feist (2+1), Deagan McMillan (2G) and Austin Roest (3A) provided the offensive spark.
Nick Noren and Erik Pastro potted the other markers. Jace Weir and Bennett Kuhnlein added assists to power the offense in front of a solid Austin Seibel.
The early morning wake-up Sunday took a toll as both teams took a while to find their groove.
The Mustangs took off first and never looked back with Roest and Bennett Kuhnlein kickstarting the offence with Feist, Pastro, JJ Milne and McMillan chipping in with singles. Weir, Cash Anderson and Noren added assists in support of Matthew Kuhnlein.
The Coca-Cola Vipers used a wild rally to tie South Okanagan 4-4 in Midget Tier 3 play Saturday afternoon in Osoyoos.
Down 3-2 late, the Vipers pulled their goalie and gave up an empty-netter before scoring with 80 seconds left. Luc Halvorson supplied the equalizer with 40 seconds left, from Ryan Hanke. Jacob Brewer and Dayton Bryant had other clutch goals.
The Coke crew bowed 7-3 to Kelowna on Sunday with Gavin Fleck, Halvorson and Bryant converting.
In Atom Rep Development play Saturday, Vernon lost 7-4 to the West Kelowna Warriors at Civic Arena. Hudson Kibblewhite, with a deuce, Ollie Reid and Ashton Rysen scored for Vernon.