Vernon Vipers give rookies a chance

The Viper coaching staff is hardly placing calls to the Hockey Crisis Line after a pair of exhibition losses at Kal Tire Place.

Vernon Vipers are 0-2 in the BCHL preseason.

Vernon Vipers are 0-2 in the BCHL preseason.

Morning Star Staff

The coaching staff is hardly placing calls to the Hockey Crisis Line after a pair of exhibition losses at Kal Tire Place.

Assistant coach Kevin Kraus makes it very clear the real Vernon Vipers’ roster is still a few weeks from being chosen.

The Snakes lost 3-0 to the Merritt Centennials Friday night, 24 hours after falling 4-1 to the Penticton Vees. Vernon visits Merritt tonight and are in Penticton Tuesday.

“There was some inexperience out there, with just not moving the puck fast enough,” said Kraus, on the loss to Merritt. “It’s tough when you go lineup to lineup and there’s probably 15 new guys in the lineup every night who have never played together. Some guys definitely picked up their game from camp so that was good to see.”

Kraus gave props to top forward recruit Niko Karamanis for a second straight stellar game, also singling out forwards Kaden Black and Justin Lee.

The Vipers iced almost an entirely different B.C. Hockey League lineup from Thursday night, featuring a few veterans including Riley Brandt and Brett Stapley.

“This isn’t our team,” said Kraus. “We’re still making decisions and I don’t think, after two preseason games, you can tell we’re going to have bad scoring or bad goaltending or bad defence. It’s early.”

Ethan Skinner opened the scoring late in the first period, while Tyler Ward added insurance in the second while parked all alone in front of the net.

Merritt made it 3-0 on a fluke goal after Vernon’s Billy Cawthorn  made a routine save, only to have the puck ricochet off of a Viper defenceman and back into his own net.