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Vernon Vipers forward league’s first star

Luke Pakulak scored four goals in two Vernon wins to lead all league scorers
Vernon Vipers forward Luke Pakulak (right) is the B.C. Hockey League’s First Star of the Week after leading all league scorers with four goals in two games last weekend. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography file photo)

A hot week with his stick earned a Vernon Vipers forward league-wide recognition in the B.C. Hockey League.

Luke Pakulak, Cranbrook Bucks goaltender Nathan Airey and Chilliwack Chiefs forward Mason Kesselring have been named the NAPA Auto Parts 3 Stars of the Week.

Pakulak, from Surrey, led all BCHL players in goals scored last week with four in two Vipers wins over the weekend.

On Friday night at home against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, the recent Bentley University commit scored his first of the game on a power play late in the opening period to give his team a 2-1 edge, then potted the eventual game-winner early in the second frame in Vernon’s 5-2 victory. He was named first star of the game.

The two teams met again on Saturday, this time in Salmon Arm, and the result for Pakulak was the same. The 19-year-old scored twice, once in the first and again in the second, to help Vernon to a 4-3 overtime win, their third straight victory and their sixth straight contest with at least a point. Pakulak was once again named the game’s first star.

Airey earned a pair of victories in two home starts last week, including a 4-1 win over the Penticton Vees where he stopped 36 of 37 shots.

Kesselring was Mr. Clutch for the Chiefs last week with two of his three goals being overtime game-winners. He also added an assist for four points in three contests.

Pakulak was held off the scoresheet Tuesday, Dec. 13, as the Vipers dropped a 4-1 decision to the Wenatchee Wild in Washington state.

The win puts the Wild within two points of the sixth-place Snakes in the Interior Conference. Each team has 12 wins on the year. The Wild sit eighth, one point behind the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Vernon’s Dylan Compton opened the scoring Tuesday late in the first period.

Parker Murray scored two of his three goals on the night in the middle frame to give Wenatchee the lead, the second coming late in the period on a five-on-three powerplay.

The Vipers fired 18 shots at Wild goalie Owen Millward in the third period but could not get the equalizer. Murray and Garrett Szydlowski scored into the empty net.

Millward finished with 32 saves while Roan Clarke was solid in goal for Vernon, making 36 stops.

The Vipers will close out the first half of the season with a pair of home games. Vernon entertains the West Kelowna Warriors Friday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m., and will host the Wild Saturday, Dec. 17, at 6 p.m.

The game against Wenatchee is Vernon’s annual Teddy Bear Toss game. Fans are asked to bring a stuffed toy to the game and throw it onto the ice after the Vipers’ opening goal.

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About the Author: Vernon Morning Star Staff

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