Morning Star Staff
Rookie Liam McCloskey recorded 46 saves as the Prince George Spruce Kings surprised the Vernon Vipers 4-3 in B.C. Hockey League action before 1,711 fans Saturday night at Kal Tire Place.
McCloskey, a 17-year-old from Pitt Meadows, turned aside 18 shots in the first period with Vernon enjoying four powerplay chances, including a 5-on-3. It was McCloskey’s first win in four starts.
Prince George entered the game last overall in the 17-team BCHL at 1-7-0-3 with only 16 goals.
Captain Colton McCarthy bagged a deuce for the Vipers (5-6-1), both on deflections in tight. Odeen Tufto, also with the man advantage, had the other Vernon goal.
Cavin Tilsley, Braiden Epp and Adam Brubacher supplied powerplay snipes and Corey Hoffman added one at even strength for the pesky Kings, who trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes but made it 2-2 after 40.
Epp and Brubacher netted goals 28 seconds apart early in the third period.
Viper defenceman Mac Ferner had his second straight game with two assists.
Brendan Barry made his Viper debut in goal, finishing with 17 saves.
Vernon alternate captain Riley Brandt wore a full visor after undergoing major dental surgery Friday night after being smacked in the mouth by Nanaimo Clipper goalie Jakob Walter. Brandt did not lose any teeth in surgery, instead having them pushed back in place.
Walter was only assessed a double minor for high sticking, but the Vipers appealed for supplemental discipline. The league reviewed the play and suspended Walter six games for a direct blow to the head.
All three teams in front of Vernon in the Interior Conference won Saturday night with the first-place Penticton Vees grounding the Chilliwack Chiefs 5-1, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks outlasting the Clippers 7-4 and the West Kelowna Warriors smothering the Powell River Kings 3-0.
Vernon hosts the Trail Smoke Eaters (3-6) Wednesday night and entertain the Merritt Centennials (5-6) Friday night.