Newcomer Brett Mulcahy scored twice as the Vernon Vipers derailed the Coquitlam Express 3-1 in BCHL play Saturday night before 1,925 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Mulcahy, obtained in a trade with the defending champion Surrey Eagles earlier this week, netted his 24th and 25th goals of the season, including the winner with 1:43 gone in the third period. Liam Coughlin cleanly won a draw and Mulcahy quickly wired a low wrister past Pierce Dushenko. Linemate Colton Sparrow fed Mulcahy for insurance after some nice work down low, with 2.3 seconds remaining.
The Express outshot the Vipers 32-21 with Vernon sitting at the measly five-shot mark with three minutes left in the second period. Sparrow left the penalty box, took a pass from Demicon Hannoun, skated in one-on-one down his wrong wing and buried a gorgeous wrister far side on Vernon’s sixth shot, with 83 seconds left in the second period.
Coquitlam, who have the league’s No. 1 offence, went up 1-0 on a power play 4:07 into the second period when Jace Hening converted from Mark Whiteley and Bo Pieper.
Vernon spent a good chunk of the opening 40 minutes shorthanded with Mulcahy and a host of others doing a stellar job penalty killing.
Austin Smith took first star ahead of Mulcahy and Sparrow, making a handful of huge stops, his best coming off newly-acquired 20-year defenceman JD Cotroneo and Corey Mackin as the Express pressed in the late going.
Vernon moved to 22-12-3-4, good for second place in the Interior Division, one point ahead of the West Kelowna Warriors, who grounded the Express 7-2 Friday night. The first-place Penticton Vees clipped the Trail Smoke Eaters 3-2 Saturday night to shift eight points in front of the Snakes. Vernon visits the fifth-place Merritt Centennials (20-16-3-1) Tuesday night
Coquitlam, the league’s fourth-worst defensive team, dipped to 18-18-1-3, a solid third in the Mainland Division.