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Midget Vipersin B.C. final

Vernon Home Building Centre Vipers meet Port Moody Panthers in the B.C. Midget Tier 2 hockey final.
Image Credit: Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week Vernon Sun Valley Sports Viper Dawson Martian (left) heads a rush with Kamloops Blazer Chase Cooke on Wednesday in Bantam Tier 1 provincial hockey at Memorial Arena in Kamloops.

The Vernon Home Building Centre Vipers met the Port Moody Panthers in Thursday night’s B.C. Midget Tier 2 Hockey Championships final in Port Coquitlam.

Port Moody iced the Castlegar Rebels 3-0 Thursday morning to top the six-team table at 5-1. Vernon was second at 4-1-1 after a thrilling 8-5 comeback win Wednesday night over the Port Coquitlam Pirates.

“The boys are confident and determined,” said Vernon head coach Jared Barendregt, assisted by Jim Armstrong and Hayden Chase. “We’re ready to close it out and take it home.”

Gritty forward Dex Elders missed the last two games with a bruised arm after taking a crosscheck, but drew back into the lineup Thursday night.

“I gave him an extra game off but he’s ready to go,” said Barendregt. “Everybody’s got some bumps and bruises. We’re going for a walk and then getting some rest (at the Surrey Holiday Inn) before tonight.”

Vernon brushed back Port Moody 5-2 in preliminary play Monday.

“They’ve got a pretty good transition game,” said Barendregt. “They like to move the puck through the middle but we shut that down pretty good last game.”

Kieran Watts will start in net in the gold-medal game. Vernon won the Okanagan Mainline title at 14-2 and swept Kamloops and Kelowna in the playoffs.

Roadrunner Connor Johnston pulled the hat trick, including one shorthanded, as the Vipers iced PoCo. Joe Eggert counted 2+2, while Damian Coljee-Fehr, Kyle Sherwood and Caden Bracken supplied singles. Watts replaced Ty Sedlacek after three Panther goals.

It was 3-1 PoCo at 12 minutes of the opening 20 with Johnston getting Vernon’s goal on a high wrister after he wheeled past a d-man on the right sidewall. Coljee-Fehr and Johnston delivered shorties 45 seconds apart to level the score at 3-3.

Sherwood was assessed a penalty shot a few minutes later after being hauled down on a breakaway set up by Cole Johnson. Sherwood was stoned by Thomas Watts’ glove.

Johnston was given a penalty shot with 83 seconds left in the middle stanza and Watts came up huge again. Bracken converted from Eggert with 56 seconds to go in the period, making it 4-4.

Eggert drove wide and buried a backhander through Watts’ legs for the go-ahead snipe at 11:52 of the final period. Johnston tipped a point shot by d-man Grady Caton to make it 6-4 and Sherwood put Vernon up 7-4 by going top shelf, assisted by Reed Cashato and Eggert.

Austin Wahl responded for the Pirates with 4:32 to play and Eggert sealed things with an empty netter with 63 seconds left. Vernon outshot PoCo 58-21.

Eggert supplied two goals as Vernon stopped the Peninsula Eagles of Sidney 5-0 Wednesday morning. Watts earned the shutout as the Snakes outshot the Eagles 47-15.

Power forward Stephane Richard netted the winner four minutes in with a quick backhander over the Peninsula goalie’s blocker off a scramble and faceoff. Johnston drew the assist.

Watts registered his finest save two minutes later by reaching back with his stick to prevent a sure goal.

Eggert buried a low wrister on Vernon’s 12th shot, assisted by Sherwood and Mika Burns, with 4:43 left in the period.

Sherwood upped the lead to 3-0 early in the second stanza on feeds from Eggert and Burns.

Eric Noren converted on a backhander off a rebound two minutes later with Richard and Johnston drawing helpers. Vernon outshot Peninsula 17-4 in the period.

Eggert completed the offence on a beauty tip, far corner, after a pass from the side wall by Dylan Sedlacek. Lee Christensen had the secondary assist.

In Kamloops, the Vernon Sun Valley For Source Vipers finished third after losing 5-1 to the Kamloops Blazers in the B.C. Bantam Tier 1 playdowns Wednesday afternoon at Memorial Arena.

Zackary Funk connected with his fifth goal of the six-team tournament for Vernon, coached by former NHLer Dean McAmmond. The Blazers scored in the opening minute of both the first and second periods.

Kamloops and Vernon each went 3-2 in preliminary play.

Braeden McAmmond, Cameron Moger, Mason Robinson, Colby Feist and Funk produced goals as Vernon brushed back Nanaimo 5-4 Tuesday night.

Burnaby Winter Club, who went 39-0-1 this year, shut down Kamloops 6-0 in the gold-medal game Wednesday night. Kalen Szeto, who finished the tournament with 14 goals, compiled 3+2. The 5-foot-4, 130-pounder is expected to go the Junior A route when ready.

Winter Club F Ryan Helliwell, who scored once in the final, already has a verbal commitment to the NCAA Division 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Burnaby, who advance to the Westerns in Warman, Sask., earlier crushed the Nanaimo Clippers 15-0, shaded Kamloops 5-4, toppled the Prince George Cougars 3-1 and iced Vernon 4-1.

Spallumcheen’s Caedon Bellmann won a second straight provincial minor hockey championship.

Bellmann, a Pleasant Valley Secondary student, is a goalie with the Chase Broncos, who won the B.C. Tier 4 Midget title Wednesday in Clearwater.

Bellman watched from the bench as the Broncos beat Creston 3-2 in overtime in the championship game

Bellman helped backstop the North Okanagan Knights to the 2016 B.C. Tier 4 Bantam championship.

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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