Kraus takes over for Ferner

Assistant coach Kevin Kraus will guide the Vernon Vipers against the West Kelowna Warriors Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

Assistant Kevin Kraus will run the Viper bench in place of head coach Mark Ferner Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

Assistant Kevin Kraus will run the Viper bench in place of head coach Mark Ferner Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

Morning Star Staff

Undefeated in regulation as an interim head coach, Kevin Kraus will guide the Vernon Vipers against the West Kelowna Warriors tonight at Kal Tire Place.

Head coach Mark Ferner is scouting a Midget tournament in Phoenix so Kraus, a former Viper captain, and Kevin Pedersen, are in charge.

The Vipers are 14-12-3 and in a share of second place with the surging Trail Smoke Eaters in the Interior Division of the B.C. Hockey League.

The Smokies (15-13-1) parlayed a Kale Howarth hat trick into a 5-3 win over the first-place Penticton Vees before 975 fans Wednesday night at Cominco Arena.

Vernon is three points ahead of the Merritt Centennials and six ahead of West Kelowna. The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are a deuce back of the Warriors.

“We’re pretty even teams,” said Kraus of the defending national champion Warriors. “This month is going to be huge because every game is within our division. We have to take as many points as we can in regulation.”

Kraus plans to start newbie Darion Hanson in net. Hanson, a 19-year-old Minnesota product, has allowed one goal in 140 minutes.

Hanson has a scholarship locked up with the Union Dutchmen in Schenectady, NY. Union won the 2014 NCAA Division 1 title.

The Snakes have brought in six players in the last month and Kraus sees good things ahead.

“We’re starting to come together and play as a hockey team. We have had a lot of new personnel and guys are starting to realize our style of hockey and system can be successful. They are learning how we can beat teams and when we get away from our system, even for a period, we can get beat.”

Veteran alternate captain Jagger Williamson (back) and rookie d-man Chris Jandric are on injured reserve.

The Vipers will roll six d-men and use the same forward lines as they did in a 4-1 win Sunday over the Langley Rivermen.

Captain Riley Brandt lines up with newcomer Luke Gingras and Jesse Lansdell, while Brett Stapley centres Jimmy Lambert and Steve Jandric. Game time is 7 p.m.