Victoria Grizzlies’ netminder Michael Stiliadis covers a puck with Vernon Vipers’ forward Blaine Caton on his doorstep in B.C. Hockey League action Sunday afternoon at Kal Tire Place. Victoria defender Zach Dixon (No. 3) ties up Caton.

McCarthy fires winner as Vipers ground Grizzlies

Vernon Vipers ground Victoria Grizzlies 5-1 in BCHL play Sunday at Kal Tire Place.

Head coach Mark Ferner ordered his players back out for another hour skate Sunday afternoon at Kal Tire Place.

It certainly wasn’t punishment as the Vipers joined fans for a casual post-game skate after dispatching the Victoria Grizzlies 5-1 before 1,650 B.C. Hockey League fans.

Newbie Colton McCarthy, being interviewed by the visitors’ bench, took several jabs from teammates skating by with fans.

“Don’t forget to mention your linemates,” shouted Trevor Fidler.

“I did,” replied McCarthy, who scored the winner as the Vipers improved to 12-7-1-1.

Vernon is fourth in the crazy tight Interior Division, two points back of the Merritt Centennials and three behind the West Kelowna Warriors. The Penticton Vees are runaway leaders at 19-3-0-1.

McCarthy, who has been practising with the Vipers for two weeks since leaving the WHL Prince Albert Raiders, banged in a rebound from in tight after Victoria goalie Michael Stiliadis stopped Anthony Latina’s shot with 5:40 left in the second period.

“I don’t know about hands, but it was a wide open net,” said McCarthy. “Fids did all the work down there and Anthony tipped it and it deflected right to my stick. Nice tap in goal for my first one.”

McCarthy, an 18-year-old centre from Salmon Arm, compiled six goals and 11 points in 102 games with the WHL Moose Jaw Warriors before being traded to Prince Albert. The 6-foot, 190-pounder quit the Raiders after eight games this season.

“They were the first team to contact me actually and it’s close to home,” said the 6-foot, 190-pound run-and-gun centre who loves Jonathan Toews of the Hawks and cheers for the Montreal Canadiens.

“I knew six of the guys before I came here so I talked to them and found out how they like it and if it’s worth coming. It was exciting; it’s a great team, great organization. I loved it out there today.”

Captain Riley Guenther, a former Raider who didn’t know McCarthy, says the quiet forward makes the Vipers a tougher team to play.

“He’s a big body; he’s a power forward who’s going to get to the net and give us a little bit more toughness and hopefully bang in a few more greasy ones with him in front of the net there.”

T.J. Dumonceaux put the Vipers up 1-0 with 4:28 left in the opening period, going bar down on a rebound off a Luke Shiplo shot, with 54 seconds remaining in Cole Pickup’s minor penalty. Dumonceaux has five goals on the season.

The Vipers rang up three snipes in 2:04 in the third with Fidler deflecting Latina’s shot past Stiliadis early in the frame. Shiplo took a feed from Liam Finlay and one-handed a rebound off his own shot past the Grizz goalie in close, while Finlay connected on a bang-bang play with linemate Jagger Williamson for the 5-0 goal.

Victoria, with several top-six forwards playing hurt and leading scorer Dane Gibson suspended, were playing their third road game in a row after falling 3-2 in overtime Saturday night to the West Kelowna Warriors. Wisconsin product Brett Gruber netted his team-high 10th goal of the year, on a Victoria powerplay midway through the third.

The Grizzlies dipped to 8-8-0-4, fourth in the Island Division.

“When three of your top-six forwards aren’t playing, on the road three-in-three, you’re not gonna win those,” said Victoria head coach Brad Knight.

“I thought we quit there a little bit in the third which seems to be our thing, but hopefully we’ll try and figure that out. It’ll be OK.”

Knight, in his first year with the Grizz, who have a dozen rookies, gave Vernon props for the win.

“They move the puck. They got a couple of rebound goals. We gave them the first one. We took a dumb penalty in the neutral ice away from the play. We’ve been taking dumb penalties for a while. A couple of goals driving to the net and on rebounds so a little better man on man down low for us, all of a sudden, it’s a different game.”

The Vipers were coming off a disheartening 4-2 loss Friday night to the Vees.

“That’s a lesson we learned,” said Guenther. “We can’t let a team outwork us in the third period in our own barn like they did that game. Tonight was a good bounce back for us; I think we scored three goals in the third.”

The Snakes wore their Sunday-best yellow third jerseys – close in colour to the Quinnipiac Bobcats’ sweaters – and enjoyed several scoring chances. Forward Liam Coughlin had two sure goals somehow go awry.

“They (yellow duds) were a little much for me when I first saw them, but I’m starting to like them, laughed Guenther. “Maybe one too many stripes on the arms.”

SNAKE BITES: Before he was called up to Moose Jaw two years ago, McCarthy was ranked second in the KIJHL in goals with 20 in 25 games with the Nelson Leafs despite being a 16-year-old rookie. McCarthy, who played Midget for Prince Albert Mintos, was born in Moose Jaw and moved to Salmon Arm in Grade 4. He chills at the family’s Shuswap Lake cabin and trains in the summers. He checked with Linden Hora and other young Vipers before signing here…Former NHL d-man Jack McIlhargey, who scouts for the Philly Flyers, took in both Viper weekend games…Mitch Profeit (North Ok Knights) backed up Jarrod Schamerhorn with Danny Todosyschuk injured…F Brenden Wagner and D Mitch Oliver were healthy scratches…Finlay showed loads of jump and had two assists…The Vipers visit West Kelowna Friday night and head to Langley Saturday.

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