Morning Star Staff
The Okotoks Oilers edged the Vernon Home Hardware Building Centre Vipers 3-2 in a shootout in Sunday’s final of the Midget Tier 2 Hockey Tournament at Civic Arena.
Dex Elders brought instant intensity to the gold-medal tilt when he charged in hard on a loose puck and pushed the Okotoks tender into his net. The goalie responded by grabbing Elders by the head, tackling him to the ice and ultimately resulting in a Okotoks powerplay which Vernon killed off.
Elders took another minor for slashing at the 14:30 mark of the first now having the referees’ attention.
Stephane Richard tossed several hard checks in the first period. Richard finally drew Okotoks into a roughing minor as he fought for a loose puck mishandled by the Albertan tender which drew the ire of a big d-man.
Connor Johnston got under the skin of the Okotoks team by hustling and playing the Okotoks boys harder than they appreciated, drawing a tripping call with four seconds left in the first. Although Vernon held an edge in possession and offensive zone time, the period ended scoreless.
Okotoks struck first in the second as a forward blocked a Lee Christiensen pass, sending him in on a breakaway which he converted at 17:08 after two successful penalty kills.
The Oilers struck again off a strong offensive zone forecheck to make it 2-0 at 15:27 on a high backhand shelf after tender Ty Sedlacek made several great saves prior.
Vernon responded with some offensive zone time of their own, forcing the Okotoks tender to record a sweet glove save off a 2-on-1 rush to keep it at 2-0 with 1:43 left in the second.
Vernon came out hard in the third period, forcing the Okotoks netminder to hold his team in it early. Chippy play from both teams went unpenalized often, including a lot of activity after the whistle by the Oilers.
Vernon cut the lead in half off an offensive zone faceoff win and a set shot off the back boards by d-man Lucas Wood that was buried by Eric Noren.
Elders was penalized after the goal but he redeemed himself jumping out of the penalty box and receiving a sweet breakaway pass from Grady Caton.
Elders blasted a low glove slapper to level the score with just over five minutes left.
Richard continued laying the body and drawing Okotoks into a high crosscheck resulting in a major and ejection with just 3:53 left to play. Vernon’s ensuing powerplay sputtered and the lack of urgency almost cost them as Okotoks had the best chance in the remaining 3:53.
Overtime solved nothing and Okotoks’ first two shooters were stopped by Sedlacek and all three Vernon shooters were denied, giving Okotoks the title.
Zach Agar supported the dee core after being summoned from Tier 3 with regulars Tyson Sampert and Harvey Pawsey sidelined.
Professional musician John Noren sang the national anthem in front of 150-plus friends, family and fans.
“We are all really proud of the boys for how they competed in the finals today and the rest of the tournament,” said Viper head coach Jared Barengredt. “They showed a lot of character.”
The Vipers brushed back the New Westminster Royals 4-2 in the semifinals early Sunday morning, getting goals from Grady Caton, Stephane Richard, Eric Noren and Caden Bracken.
Vernon earlier smothered the Ridge Meadows Rustlers 12-1 with Mika Burns pulling the hat trick and deuces coming from Bracken and Elders.
Kobe Grant earned the shutout as the Vernon Sun Valley Source for Sports Bantam Tier 1 Vipers blanked the Kelowna Rockets 3-0 Saturday afternoon at the Capital News Centre.
Trevor Kennedy banged home a rebound from a Braeden McAmmond shot for the first snipe. Ben Imrich earned the second assist.
McAmmond took a feed from Jacob Boden and rifled a wrister top shelf shorthanded. Just 30 seconds later, Vernon registered their second short handed snipe as Jacob Jones stripped the puck at centre and then went in all alone deking the goalie backhand shelf.
Porter Trevelyan and Mason Robinson had superb two-way showings.
Deagan McMillan scored with five minutes remaining as the Watkin Motors Pee Wee Tier 2 Mustangs upended the host Kelowna Pee Wee Tier 1 Jr Rockets 4-3 in exhibition action Sunday at Memorial Arena.
Nick Noren converted a 2-on-1 with McMillan after banging home a juicy rebound in front.
The line of Jarred Feist, Austin Roest and Erik Pastro took over in the second period with both Pastro and Feist scoring, and Roest assisting on both.
“We had a total team effort today, in all parts of our game” said Watkin Motors head coach Trevor Seibel. “Solid goaltending, sound defensive play and strong offence carried the boys. Everybody contributed and we came away with a true team victory today.”
The Vernon Fix Auto Bantam Tier 3 Vipers split their last two preliminary games before being ambushed by the host Winfield Bruins in the semifinals of a tournament in Lake Country.
The Vipers bowed 6-1 to the Revelstoke Grizzlies (Ryan Vandesande goal) and then parlayed a hat trick by Jacob Wettlaufer into a 8-5 win over Surrey.
Jaxxon Collard (2+1), Fraser O’Brien (1+2), Gage Stohl and Cody Beckner completed the offence with Ronac Chauhan (3A) and Trevor Moore (2A) helping out. Game MVP was goalie Kassidy Schaper-Kotter
The Co-op Salmon Arm Female Midget A Silvertips fell 8-0 to Penticton in league action.
Wynter Vanderveen, Makenna Southam and Makenna Howe had strong defensive games .
The H&L Glass Wolfpack bowed 11-4 to Kelowna in Atom B Development play Sunday at the Capital News Centre.
Hudson Kibblewhite pocketed 2+1 for the Wolfpack, singles going to Ollie Reid and Charlie Swartz.