Football fans were in seventh heaven over the weekend with the start of the NFL playoffs, but not to be outdone, the Vernon Vipers scored a “touchdown” of their own on Saturday.
The Vipers put up seven goals against the Wenatchee Wild on Wild-Card Weekend, snapping a two-game losing skid and strengthening their position in the 2020 BCHL playoff picture.
Seven different Vipers players found the back of the net on Sunday — two of those goals were BCHL firsts. Isaac Suppin tallied his first league goal to kickstart a dominant second period for his team, and Jack Glen added his first league goal just under seven minutes into the third period.
The Vipers weathered an early blitz by a rested Wild team, with goaltender Reilly Herbst forced to stop 17 shots in the opening period. Vernon’s Brett Fudger opened the scoring, keeping the puck on a 2-on-1 and snapping home his second goal of the season.
The Wild capitalized on a powerplay late in the period as Brett Chorske put a rebound home to even the game at 1-1. Shots in the period finished 18-6 for the visiting team.
Things started clicking for the Snakes in the second period. Suppin’s goal restored their lead with assists going to Fudger and Trey Taylor. Six minutes in, Colby Feist found himself in a breakaway and made no mistake firing the puck past Wild goalie Daniel Chenard.
Dawson Holt and Matt Kowalski would add to the scoring frenzy, potting their 16th and 20th goals of the season, respectively.
The strong second period was nearly sullied by a scary moment when Vipers’ Landon Fuller blocked a shot up in the neck area off the stick of Wenatchee sniper Sam Morton. Fuller left for some attention from medical staff, but hardly missed a shift before returning to the bench and assisting on Holt’s goal.
With seconds left in the middle frame, Vipers skater Jackson Caller was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding. His team surrendered just one goal on the five-minute ensuing penalty as Harrison Scott fired a shot from the left circle to make it a 5-2 game.
When the penalty expired it was back to their regular scheduled programming for Vipers fans, who watched Glen score his first BCHL goal to make it 6-2. The Wild would get one back but with 2:08 to go Cameron McDonald added the extra point with a rebound goal to settle the scoring at 7-3.
With the win, the Vipers split their weekend set after a 5-4 loss to Coquitlam on Saturday.
“It was a positive weekend for our group,” head coach Jason McKee said after the game Sunday. “I liked what we did last night, (we) probably deserved a little bit better fate.”
The Vipers now share an identical 21-17-1-1-0 record with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, and those two teams sit in a three-way tie with the Wild for third highest point total (44) in the Interior Division.
The Vipers resume play on Saturday, Jan. 11, when they host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs to conclude a four-game homestand.