Morning Star Staff
The Vernon Home Building Centre Vipers are in the Okanagan Mainline Midget Tier 1 Hockey Association final series.
The Vipers rallied to stop the North Kamloops Lions 4-3 Saturday at Memorial Arena to take the best-of-three semfinal series 2-1.
The Lions opened the scoring at 14:30 of the second period playing 4-on-4 but Jagger Williamson equalized on a pass from Nick Higgs.
Vernon went ahead with the first of three powerplay goals just before the end of the second period, with Cole Woodliffe scoring from Williamson and Mitch Lukacs.
The Vipers spent the first three minutes of the third period on the penalty kill, including 30 seconds of 5-on-3 which they killed, but North Kamloops (third place, at 6-8-2) responded with two in just over a minute to go ahead again.
Lukacs tied it from Williamson on the first half of a Kamloops double minor for head contact and Layne Greene came through with the winner from Jacob Dolinar and Lukacs on the second half of that penalty. Austin Goss made 30 saves in net.
The fourth-place Vipers (6-9) had a little extra help from a Kamloops connection when Carson Richards’ skate blade broke in the first period and a family friend of one of the Vipers rushed home and brought his own pair of skates to get Richards back on the ice while they tried to get his skate fixed.
Said Vernon head coach Rob Spraggs: “It showed the character of this team to battle back from being down 1-0 in the series and then down 3-2 in the third period of an elimination game. The players never panicked and stuck to the game-plan and that paid off for us in the end. If we can keep that character and team-first mentality against Kelowna, I think we have a chance to pull off the upset.”
Vernon, third at 6-9, open the best-of-three final against the league-leading Kelowna Fripps Warehouse Rockets (14-1-1) Saturday, 3 p.m., at Memorial Arena.
Game 2 goes Sunday, 1:45 p.m., at Civic Arena. A third game, if required, will go Sunday, March 2 in Kelowna.
Lakers lose to Mystix
The Sladen Moore Lakers lost 7-3 to host Kamloops Mystix in Game 1 of the Bantam A Female final series.
Down by four goals after two periods, Jenna Fletcher connected from Andie Kaneda early in the third period. Just four minutes later, Makenna Southam pinched in off the blueline and buried her second of the season, the assist going to Brooke Berube.
The Mystix, coached by former Vernon Laker Dusty McLellan, added two more snipes to regain a four-goal lead. Fletcher added one more snipe in the penalty-filled tilt.
Game 2 goes Saturday, March 1, 2:45 p.m. at Civic Arena since nine of the Lakers are in the B.C. Winter Games in Mission this week.
H&L Glass stop SilverBacks
The H&L Glass Vipers vaulted over the Salmon Arm SilverBacks in the Atom ‘C’ standings with a 3-1 victory Saturday at Hucul Pond.
In the early going, Vernon leaned on the sharp goaltending of Jaret Cooper and the steely penalty killing of Braden Schmiegelt, Liam Leibel and Brock Holliday.
With five minutes to go in the first, Liam Remple issued a cross-ice stretch pass to Nick Noren, who cut in off the right wing and popped the puck upstairs on the glove side.
Salmon Arm clawed back with an early goal in the second. Game-breaker Cash Anderson put the Snakes back on top at 15:46. Intercepting a pass at his own line, Anderson bolted into the clear, put on a bevy of moves and then raised the puck over the goalie. Less than a minute later, Salmon Arm turned up the heat on the powerplay. Between the pipes, Teja Sheldrake was a human force field, almost singlehandedly killing the penalty with seven stops.
Special teams were the difference in the third. After two tidy penalty kills, led by workhorses Chris Bond and Maddex Minard, Vernon’s power play hit pay dirt at 16:02. The speed merchant line of Emma Elders, Anderson and Noren had heads spinning around the SilverBack net before Noren’s backhand found mesh.
Sheldrake was awarded the Hard Hat for his 21-save shutout turn.
Valley Wood smother Kelowna
The Atom A Valley Wood Wolfpack posted an 8-2 win over Kelowna #1.
Jacob Boden opened the scoring, netting a rebound off a shot from Jace Weir at the point. Funk then skated in and snapped a shot over the goalie.
Boden added another goal from Jakob Jones making it 3-1 at the break. Ronic Chauhan then buried a pass from Jones in front.
Jones was all over the ice and scored unassisted. before d-men Isaac Thomas and Weir recorded slapshot snipes from the point. Steel Quiring added the last goal on a pass from Boden in the slot. Goalie Owen Swiscoski was solid in net.