Morning Star Staff
With his normal linemate Liam Finlay away at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge, Odeen Tufto nicely welcomed Christian Cakebread and Jimmy Lambert to the Vernon Vipers’ first forward unit Saturday night.
Tufto, an 18-year-old dynamo from Minnesota, scored twice and set up two others as the Vipers stuffed the Langley Rivermen 7-4 on Teddy Bear Toss night at the Events Centre. Lambert added 2+1 and Cakebread provided a physical presence with solid two-way hustle.
The Vipers are now 2-0 in Teddy Bear games this season. They iced the Cowichan Valley Capitals 3-1 on Dec. 5 at Kal Tire Place.
“I thought it was probably Odeen’s best game of the year so far,” said Viper assistant coach Kevin Kraus. “He has been one of our most consistent players on both sides of the puck and he was shooting Saturday night, something he and Finlay don’t do enough.”
Tufto’s 14th snipe of the season, on a powerplay midway through the second period, came off a bar-down shot as he skated from the half wall. D-man Bo Pellah drew the assist.
“That whole line was dominating every shift and the whole team followed them,” said Kraus, who joined a few Vipers at a Lumby minor hockey practice Monday night.
Hunter Zandee pounced on a crazy bounce off the end boards and buried his fourth of the year past starter Nickolas Trenciansky 3:33 after the national anthem. Captain Colton McCarthy and d-man Latrell Charleson drew helpers.
Tufto ripped a wrister between Trenciansky’s pads three minutes later from the left side. Lambert and d-man Mitchell Oliver earned assists.
Tufto made a great pass from the corner to a streaking Lambert, who tipped the puck into the top corner for the 3-0 goal exactly three minutes after Tufto’s goal.
Just 83 seconds later, newbie Charley Michalowski converted on a partial breakaway for his first goal in nine games with the Snakes.
Scores of bears hit the ice for the Surrey Christmas Bureau when Torrin White scored on a Langley powerplay with 19 seconds left in the opening 20.
Matt Graham responded to Tufto’s powerplay rocket winner five minutes later with his 17th of the year off a White rebound which hit the crossbar.
Lambert recorded his eighth of the campaign on a powerplay to make it 6-2 two minutes later.
One shift later, Zac Masson beat Viper netminder Brendan Barry with a sweet wrister over the shoulder from the left wing. Former Viper Logan Mick had the only assist on Masson’s fifth goal of the year.
Affiliate goaltender Braedon Fleming (Yale Hockey Academy) replaced Trenciansky to start the third period.
Blueliner Troy Ring pulled the Rivermen to within two goals late in the third with a point shot, his third of the season.
Riley Brandt pocketed an empty-netter with 35 seconds remaining, his 12th snipe.
The Rivermen were without second-leading pointgetter Justin Fregona (19-15-34) and veteran goalie Bo Didur, both on Team Canada West.
The Vipers hosted the Penticton Vees Tuesday night at Kal Tire Place. The Vees, who are ranked No. 1 in the nation, shaded the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-3 in double overtime Saturday night in Penticton. Scott Conway’s 28th goal of the season was the winner.
The Vees are without projected 2016 NHL first-round draft picks Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro, who each earned two points for Canada West, 7-3 winners over the Czech Republic in their tourney opener Saturday in Couburg, Ont. Next action for Canada West is Tuesday night against the U.S.
SNAKE BITES: Vernon outshot Langley 32-29 with Barry posting his second win in five starts. Trenciansky fell to 9-6-1…The Rivermen have 10 players with NCAA scholarships…Vernon hosts the Merritt Centennials Friday night and the Powell River Kings in a Sunday matinee…Penticton leads the BCHL at 29-3-1. The Vipers are fourth in the Interior Division, two points in front of the red-hot Trail Smoke Eaters. Trail grounded the Cowichan Valley Capitals 7-3 Sunday in Duncan behind two goals from Kienan Scott. The Smokies have won four straight and entertain the Vipers tonight…Viper grad Marcus Basara scored once to help the Alaska Nanooks clip the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves 2-1 Friday night in Game 1 of the Governor’s Cup before 2,529 fans at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. Basara, a junior from Kelowna, has four goals and six points through 18 games. Former Viper Colton Sparrow has two goals, including one winning snipe, and four points in 18 games. Sparrow, a Vernon product, is a sophomore. The teams tied 1-1 in Game 2 Saturday night.