Midget Vipers host opening playoff

The Vernon Home Building Centre Vipers fell 6-2 to Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton Saturday to finish up their Okanagan Mainline Tier 1 Midget Hockey League regular season.

Vernon Venom’s Steven Benischek watches helplessly from just out of swatting range as Kamloops Devils’ netminder Taylor Kaban pounces on a loose puck Saturday in Senior Atom hockey action at the Civic Arena.

Vernon Venom’s Steven Benischek watches helplessly from just out of swatting range as Kamloops Devils’ netminder Taylor Kaban pounces on a loose puck Saturday in Senior Atom hockey action at the Civic Arena.

The Vernon Home Building Centre Vipers fell 6-2 to Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton Saturday to finish up their Okanagan Mainline Tier 1 Midget Hockey League regular season.

Chris Nonis, from Jared Barendregt and Trevor Pickett, got the Vipers on the board early in the first period but OHA responded right away and went on to score five more markers.

Justin Mitchell closed out the scoring late on a rebound, assisted by defenceman Austin Krahn. Goalie Michael Hails stopped 34 OHA shots.

The Vipers finished second at 7-11-2 and gain home-ice advantage with the third-place Kamloops Lions (4-12-3) in a best-of-three playoff series that begins Saturday, Feb. 12 (5:30 p.m.) at Civic.

Game two goes Sunday, Feb. 13 at Memorial Arena in Kamloops. A third game, if necessary, would be played Friday, Feb. 18 in Vernon.

The winner will play the first-place Kelowna Rockets for a berth in the provincials, March 20-25, in Nanaimo.

Renegades draw with Vees

In Bantam Tier 1 action, the Vernon Sun Valley Source For Sports Renegades tied the Penticton Vees 4-4 Saturday at Civic Arena.

Tyler Landry was in net, while Carson Richards from Curtis Sexsmith, Blaine Caton from Logan Geefs and Dennon Leibel, Jeff Bouchon assisted by Jacob Dolinar, and Leibel on feeds by Austin Garrington and Sexsmith, handled the offence.

The Renegades opened the weekend by losing 7-2 to the No. 1 provincially-rated Kamloops Blazers Friday night at Priest Valley Arena.

Austin Goss was in net and goals came from Dolinar, assisted by Sexsmith, and Sexsmith from Alex McGovern.

The Coca-Cola Midget Tier 2 Vipers tied Okanagan Hockey Academy 5-5 Saturday night at Wesbild Centre.

The Vipers trailed 3-1 after one period with Owen Barker connecting on assists by Eli Longworth and Kyle Clark.

After 40 minutes, the Vipers were still down by two with goals by Barker, assisted by Aaron Benjaminsen, and Brandon Rysen assisted by Clark.

The Vipers battled hard to score twice in the third with goals by affiliate Troy Richardson, assisted by Ryan Dubetz and Brad Jones, and Barker (hat trick) unassisted.

Vernon lost 6-1 to the Salmon Arm SilverTips in Sunday exhibition play. Russell Hoefsloot scored from Taylor Hamilton-Gee.

Mustangs set for playoffs

The Watkins Motors Mustangs had a tough Pee Wee Tier 1 weekend, starting with a Saturday night 6-1 loss to Salmon Arm.

Jagger Williamson scored from Kaden Black and Zac McCall to give the Mustangs a brief lead.

Watkin Motors closed out league play Sunday by falling 6-3 to the Kelowna Rockets at Wesbild.

It was a see-saw affair with Black opening the scoring on the power play from Connor Marritt and Williamson. Kelowna then equalized and went ahead 2-1.

The Mustangs pressed hard, and on their second power play, Marrit carried the puck in before dropping it off to Mac Gourdine, who set up Williamson for the 2-2 goal.

Kelowna then took over the territorial play for the last half of the second period and went up 5-2 before Vernon battled back with a goal from Michael (Moose) LeNoury to cut the lead.

Josh Evans played a solid game in goal for the Mustangs, who now head into the playoffs this weekend against Kelowna before the Coca-Cola Classic Tournament starting Thursday, Feb. 10.

It was a battle in Armstrong in the final Bantam Tier 3 league game for the Vernon Veterinary Clinic Knights who lost 5-2 to Revelstoke.

Hayden Chase scored in the first period assisted by Gabe Turner and Chase Larsen. With the score 1-1 at the ice clean, the Knights came out to start the second half fired up with motivation from head coach Keith Chase and assistant Fred Dyck.

Vernon’s second goal came from Easton Jones assisted by Alex Richardson and Bryton Stead. Bryce Dyck was sensational in net facing 51 shots. Vernon played one of the best games of the season against the first-place Grizzlies.

Thrashers tie Revelstoke

In Pee Wee Tier 2 play, the Nixon Wenger Thrashers finished league play Saturday by getting shut out 3-0 by host Penticton.

The Thrashers tied the Revelstoke Grizzlies 3-3 in Sunday exhibition play. Kyle Sherwood (2+1) and Seth Blundell (1+2) sparked the Vernon offence. The Thrashers open the playoffs this weekend in Kamloops.

The H&L Glass Wolfpack gave up two late goals and settled for a 2-2 Senior Atom Developmental draw with the Kelowna Lakers Sunday at Wesbild Centre.

Orca Wiesblatt of the Lakers scored his 25th goal of the season on a solo effort at 7:46 of the third period and then helped set up a deflected goal by Jack Frohler 2:12 later.

Wolfpack goalie Dylan Blazek made a pair of stellar toe saves as the Lakers pressed in the third.

Joe Eggert, from Nicholas Cherkowski, and Nick Mitchell from Cherkowski and Eggert, accounted for the H&L Glass offence. Powell Connor, Devin Pimm, Eric Noren and Josh Bridge had strong games on the back end.

In Saturday league play at Civic, the Wolfpack fell 5-2 to Penticton Gametime Sports.

Connor, from Cameron Moger, and Noren, assisted by Connor, had the Pack goals.

Dolinar pumps up Knights

The North Okanagan Senior Atom Knights doubled the host Merritt Centennials 12-6 Saturday night behind 4+4 from Matthew Dolinar.

Mitchell Brown added 2+2, while Austin Clarke earned 2+1 and other goals came from Kord Haller, Bryan Brew, James Francis and Michael Kormany. Wesley Graves chipped in with four assists while Juli Gilowski and Griffin Evans each added 2 helpers. The Knights outshot the Cents 53-15 with Wyatt Fowler taking the win.

On Sunday, the Vernon Valleywood Venom reeled off five unanswered goals in the third period to stop the Knights 8-2 in exhibition play at the Wesbild Centre. Ethan Maarhuis and Bryan Brew scored for the Knights.

The Venom lost 6-1 to the Kamloops Devils in league play Saturday at Wesbild Centre.

CJ Storey scored on a feed from Coleton Bilodeau.

Cats sweep Major Rockets

The Cariboo Cougars scored five first-period goals en route to a 6-3 win over the Okanagan Rockets in B.C. Major Midget Hockey League play Sunday in Prince George.

Mitchell Cook and Vernon products Mat Lambert and Alex Gillies scored for the Rockets, who dipped to 12-17-3.

On Saturday, first-period goals by the Rockets’ Matt Hill and Cook had the Rockets flying, but the fourth-place Cougars rattled off the next four goals to earn a 4-2 victory. The Cats are 20-10-1.

The Rockets now sit six points behind the Vancouver Northeast Chiefs for the sixth and final playoff spot in the MML.

Up next for the Rockets is a home series against the fifth-place South Island Thunderbirds (13-11-7) starting Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Capital News Centre. The teams play Sunday at 10 a.m.