Max Palaga made 20 saves for his first shutout of the season and the Vernon Vipers picked up their first home-ice victory of the young B.C. Hockey League schedule, blanking the Island Division-leading Powell River Kings 3-0 Saturday at Kal Tire Place in front of 1,623 fans.
The Vipers peppered Kings goalie Matteo Paler-Chow with 37 shots.
“We played with a lot of structure tonight,” said Vipers head coach/general manager Jason McKee on the team’s website, vernonvipers.com. “We need to be comfortable playing in low-scoring, tight-checking games and I thought we did that really well tonight.”
After a scoreless first period, Vernon opened the scoring in the middle frame with two goals 91 seconds apart at 4:52 and 5:23, courtesy of Cameron MacDonald and Ben Sanderson.
MacDonald would add his second of the game, and third of the year, into an empty net at 18:58 of the third period.
The Vipers (3-2) are now off for a week before welcoming the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Saturday night at Kal Tire Place (6 p.m. start). Powell Rivers drops to 5-2.
The defending Interior Division champion Penticton Vees and Salmon Arm Silverbacks improved to 5-0 Saturday, the only teams in the league without any losses.
The Vees avenged last year’s mammoth first-round playoff upset to the cross-over, eight-seeded Capitals, blanking Cowichan Valley 6-0 in Duncan. The Silverbacks got past the visiting Victoria Grizzlies 5-3. The Grizz spoiled Vernon’s home opener 24 hours earlier with a 5-1 decision over the Vipers.
Penticton and Salmon Arm are one point behind the division-leading Wenatchee Wild, who improved to 5-0-0-1 (shootout loss to Vipers) with a 4-2 win at home over the Merritt Centennials (1-4).