After manhandling the competition all weekend, the Vernon Fix Auto Predators had to dig deep to uncover gold in their Pee Wee Tier 3 hockey tournament Sunday at Civic Arena.
The Preds outscored their opponents 38-7 heading into the final against the Vernon Nixon Wenger Jets, but had to bear down for a 2-1 win to take the title.
Jordan Campagnolo opened the scoring in the first period, assisted by CJ Storey and Lucas Halvorson. Joe Eggert collected the winner from Juli Gilowski and Campagnolo to secure gold.
“We’ve had close games against our Vernon rivals and knew the Jets would be hungry to get their first win against us,” said Preds’ head coach Linc Dougan. “Sound goaltending by Ethan Huizinga and solid play by Aiden Rysen, Dex Elders, Halvorson and (Game) MVP Juli Gilowski helped us stay ahead all game.”
The Jets ran into penalty troubles against the Preds, playing 20 minutes shorthanded. Trailing 2-0, the Jets had a late surge resulting in a goal by Josh Bridge, assisted by Kyle Sherwood and Jenna Fletcher.
Jayden Jensen Hunter was a rock in making 20 saves in the first half, and Kieran Watts (22 saves) shut the door against the Preds in relief.
The Preds opened the eight-team, two-pool tourney with a 9-2 win over the Revelstoke Grizzlies Friday.
The Vernon goal spree began in the second period with Game MVP Storey scoring four times. Stephane Richards added a deuce and Mika Burns had one.
Burns picked up his second in the third frame, while Eggert iced the scoring with two minutes remaining. Braeden Barnard made 15 saves for the win.
Barnard and Ethan Huizinga split netminding duties as the Preds bulldozed the Prince George Oilers 14-3 Saturday.
Richards (2), Mason McLennan and Caden Bracken made the scoresheet in the first period. Richards picked up his hat trick in the second along with singles from Campagnolo, Drayden Harshenin and Game MVP Noah Debalinhard.
Campagnolo added his second in the third period, with Brayden Jones, Burns, Storey and a pair from Eggert completing the scoring.
In their second Saturday tilt, Richards supplied a first-period hat trick in a 15-2 shellacking of 100 Mile House.
A deuce by Burns and a single from Eggert ended the scoring in the first. Burns and Storey each racked up two goals in the second, with singles from Dougan and Richards.
Dougan notched his second in the third frame, with singles from Campagnolo as Eggert.
The Jets began play Saturday with a 8-0 shutout win by Jensen Hunter over the Prince George Canadiens.
Scoring came from Nick Cherkowski (2), Dawson Chase, Finnian Okeefe, Sherwood, Jaxson Cummings, Keaton McCune and Coleton Bilodeau.
Assists were added by Bridge, Keeghan McRae, Niklas Luttmerding, Liam Hennig and Damian Coljee-Fehr.
The Jets earned a finals berth with an exciting 9-6 win over the Abbotsford Hawks.
The Jets built a 4-1 lead at the halfway point, but a strong push from the Hawks had the score tied 5-5 heading into the third. The Jets exploded for four more goals to seal the win.
Jets’ offence was supplied by Cherkowski (3+4) and Bilodeau (3+1), Dawson Boyce (2) and Hennig.
POE blanks Midget Vipers
Goals were hard to come by for the Vernon Home Building Centre Vipers on the weekend.
The Midget Tier 1 Vipers lost 4-0 to league-leading Kelowna at Memorial Arena Sunday after a frustrating 1-0 loss to Pursuit of Excellence Saturday at Civic Arena.
Jayden Campbell, a call-up from Tier 2 to replace the injured Evan Campagnolo, put on a goaltending display Saturday to turn away all but one shot on a breakaway in the third period. After sustained pressure in Kelowna’s end, the puck got past the Viper defenceman and Kelowna took advantage of the resulting two-on-none to put it in the Vernon net. Vernon pressured the Kelowna goalie in the dying minutes but were denied each time.
The Vipers were hampered by regular players missing due to holidays, injury and suspensions, and were forced to call up four other Tier 2 players in addition to Campbell to fill out the roster.
The Vipers are off to Phoenix, Arizona Thursday for the Arizona Hockey Clubs Thanksgiving Shootout Tournament.
Coke boys tripped up
Despite blowing early leads, the Coca-Cola Vipers looked strong in a pair of Midget Tier 2 weekend losses.
The Vipers used five call-up players in their 6-5 loss to the Pursuit of Excellence Academy Saturday in Kelowna.
Vernon took an early 3-1 lead on goals by Chad Thomas, Brad Jones and call-up Russell Hickman before some penalty trouble gave the POE a four-minute 5-on-3 advantage. POE capitalized and the Vipers couldn’t get back in the game.
Lee Springer and Matthew Halvorson rounded out the scoring on Saturday.
Vernon led the Westside Warriors 3-0 Sunday, but ultimately fell 6-4 at Civic Arena.
Tyson Clark, call-up Brock Wagner (1+2) and Chad Thomas helped give Vernon the early lead, while Jacob Dolinar supplied the other tally.
Westside netted three powerplay goals and an empty-netter to ice the game.
“The (call-up) players we brought up did a great job for us in the games this weekend,” said head coach Robert Spraggs.
Dixon does it for Vipers
Austin Dixon buried the winner on a great individual effort with 2:11 to play as the Vernon Machine Vipers shaded West Kelowna in Bantam Tier 3 exhibition play Saturday in Armstrong.
Playing a back-and-forth game, Vernon got the first goal at 6:12 of the first period when Colton Skead converted a pass from Josh DeCoffe.
Westside tied it in the second frame before Vernon restored the lead early in the third on Dixon’s first goal from Bryton Stead.
The Machine Vipers will be in Merritt for a weekend tournament.
Knights round up Posse
In Senior Atom Development play, the North Okanagan Knights outgunned the host Princeton Posse 8-5.
The Knights’ Trevor Kennedy opened the scoring, assisted by Mitchell Brown, only to have the hosts respond with two quick goals.
Singles by North Okanagan’s Alex Gilowski, assisted by Bryan Brew, and Brown, assisted by Kennedy, had the two teams tied 3-3 after 40 minutes.
The Posse went ahead early in the third period, but goals by Brett Zbytnuik and Brown saw the Knights take the lead.
Princeton tied it 5-5, but Scott Gilowski fired two snipes 10 seconds apart, with assists by Nicholas Walker and Alex Gilowski, to take the lead for good. Wesley Graves added a short-handed, empty-netter, assisted by Brown, with 30 seconds left.
Easton Hunter earned the win.
In other Atom Development action, the Vernon Valleywood Manufacturing Venom fell 4-2 to host Kamloops Saturday.
Kamloops took a 3-0 lead into the third period before goals by Cameron Moger and Caden Danbrook brought Vernon within one. Kamloops added an empty-netter with the Venom pressing for the equalizer.
Pee Wee girls earn draw
The Vernon Lakers Pee Wee girls team went winless in a pair of weekend games.
In a Sunday exhibition match, the Lakers skated to a 4-4 exhibition draw against Vernon Atom Development #2 Sunday at Civic Arena.
Trailing by a goal, Emily Clarke supplied the equalizer in the final minute with netminder Samantha Head on the bench for an extra attacker.
Clarke opened the scoring on a setup by Mairyn Tucker, who scored the Lakers’ second goal with Makenna Southam drawing an assist.
Carli Southam, assisted by Cassidy Marshall, had the other goal for the Lakers, who were coming off a 6-2 league loss Saturday in Kamloops.
Andie Kaneda and Julia McCaig scored for Vernon with assists going to Amy Fox, Jordan Butler, Cassidy Marshall and Chelsea Marshall.