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Vernon Vipers grill Trail Smoke Eaters

Snakes erupt for season-high 10 goals in 10-3 win in BCHL play Wednesday at Kal Tire Place
Trail Smoke Eaters forward Connor Michaud (10) tries to fend off Vernon Vipers defenceman Cade McNelly during Vernon’s 10-3 BCHL victory Wednesday, March 23, at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)

The Vernon Vipers saved their biggest offensive output of the B.C. Hockey League season for the last night.

The Snakes hung double digits on the Trail Smoke Eaters, rolling to a 10-3 victory Wednesday, March 23, at Kal Tire Place in Vernon’s regular season finale.

Trail closes out the season with a home date Friday, March 25, against the Wenatchee Wild, then visit the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Saturday.

Vernon’s previous season-high for goals scored was in a 9-0 romp over the Merritt Centennials.

Eight different Vipers registered a multi-point night and goalie Ethan David stopped 26 shots as the Vipers finished the year in sixth place at 27-20-4-3.

Vernon jumped out to an early lead after Reagan Milburn slammed home a rebound for his 16th goal of the season. While shorthanded, Cam MacDonald was hauled down on a breakaway resulting in a penalty shot. On the ensuing shot, MacDonald ripped the puck home post and in to make it 2-0.

Just 17 seconds later Matthew Culling converted on a turnover for his 12th of the season. Cade McNelly, who was sitting in the box for the shorthanded goals, was sprung on a breakaway as he came out of the box and he snapped a shot low blocker to make it 4-0.

The Smokies would make a change in goal, replacing starter Owen Albers with Ethan Shebansky, and the period ended 4-0.

The Vipers extended the lead on a powerplay as Luke Pakulak spun at the far post and went bar down for his ninth of the season.

Trail got on the board on a delayed penalty as Zach Michaelis tucked one through David, making it 5-1. A few minutes later Luke Lavery found some daylight in the right circle and went up under the bar, making it 6-1.

Defenceman Talon Zakall was next to find the back of the net with his fifth goal of the season.

Less than a minute later Josh Orrico converted on a 3-on-1 rush for the Smokies’ second marker.

Trail cut the deficit on an early third-period powerplay as Coalson Wolford was set up in front to make it 7-3.

Pakulak scored another powerplay goal for his 10th of the season, and a minute later MacDonald scored his second of the night. That resulted in another goalie switch for Trail, with Albers returning between the pipes.

It didn’t matter to Vernon as 22 seconds after the change, Jack Glen snapped home his fifth of the season.

Albers and Shebansky finished with a combined 24 saves.

League playoffs start Friday, April 1 with Vernon visiting the West Kelowna Warriors and Trail taking the bus to Penticton for a date with the regular-season champion Vees among the four Interior Conference first-round best-of-seven affairs.

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