Vernon Vipers take a moment to gather for a picture with some of the plethora of stuffed animals collected after Matt Kowalski’s first-period goal on Teddy Bear Toss night. The Vipers beat the Wenatchee Wild 6-4. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photos)

Vernon Vipers stuff Wild on Teddy Bear Toss night

Vipers beat Wild 6-4 in game delayed to clear ice littered with stuffies after Matt Kowalski goal

The Vernon Vipers are now 1-1 in B.C. Hockey League Teddy Bear Toss games against the Wenatchee Wild.

After losing last year’s tilt to the Wild 5-4, the Vipers got two goals and two assists from Dawson Holt, and the Teddy Bear goal came from the hottest Snake, Matt Kowalski, as Vernon defeated Wenatchee 6-4 Saturday, Dec.7, in front of 2,128 stuffy-bearing fans at Kal Tire Place.

After the Wild opened the scoring, Kowalski caused a delay to clear the ice of stuffed animals after his 17th goal of the season at 12:38 made it rain teddy bears. Kowalski, coming off a three-goal, five-point night Friday in an 8-3 home-ice win over the Merritt Centennials, has four goals in his last two games, and 10 goals in his last 10 contests.

READ MORE: Vernon Vipers go on scoring spree versus Merritt Centennials

It was the second straight year a local player scored the Vipers’ Teddy Bear goal. Lumby’s Jagger Williamson scored in the 2018 match.

Wenatchee regained the lead in the second period with the man advantage before the Vipers equalized on a powerplay of their own from Cameron MacDonald, his eighth of the year.

With defenceman Landon Fuller given a five-minute major for a blow to the head and game misconduct, the Vipers turned the game in their favour when Holt scored his third shorthanded goal of the season (10th overall) to make it 3-2 Vernon. The Vipers killed off the penalty, then took a 4-2 lead into the third period when Jackson Caller scored on a powerplay at 19:48.

The Wild got to within one before Holt and MacDonald scored their second goals of the games less than two minutes apart at 12:59 and 14:40 to give Vernon a 6-3 lead. The Wild ended the scoring at 15:08.

James Porter Jr. recorded his first win in goal for the Vipers, making 34 saves while Daniel Chenard made 16 saves for the Wild, who are tied for fourth place in the Interior Division with Vernon, but the Vipers have one more win. Both teams are four points behind the reeling Salmon Arm Silverbacks for third place.

The Gorillas lost their seventh in a row Saturday, 5-3 to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Vancouver Island.

The Vipers, winners of three straight, wrap up a three-games-in-three-days weekend with a Sunday afternoon contest in Merritt.

Next home game for Vernon is on Friday the 13th against the division-leading Penticton Vees, the front end of a weekend home-and-home between the longtime rivals. The clubs play in Penticton Saturday, Dec. 14.


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