Morning Star Staff
Mark Ferner and staff spent about an hour disecting video following a 4-1 victory over the West Kelowna Warriors Friday night before 1,200 fans.
Ferner will take the win, but realizes his B.C. Hockey League team is a work in progress.
“We were OK at times, good at times and not so good at time,” summed up Ferner, making his debut as head coach in Vernon’s third game of the season. “We kind of hung on in the end and Danny (goalie Todyschuk) played well. We certainly missed our three dee.”
The Vipers brought up Vernon product Matt Halvorson from the Junior B North Okanagan Knights as Johnny Coughlin served a one-game suspension from the pre-season and Luke Shiplo nursed a broken hand suffered in a fight at training camp. Captain Riley Guenther, the Vipers’ Top Defenceman last season, is recovering from a bout of mononucleosis.
The Vipers were also without injured 20-year-old T.J. Dumonceaux (knee) and rookie forward Ayden MacDonald (one-game suspension).
“We definitely need to work on defensive zone play,” said Ferner. “I thought our second period was real good. Our kids worked hard. I’m not going to complain about our compete level.”
Freshmen accounted for all Vernon’s scoring with Mackenzie Bauer bagging 2+1 and singles going to d-men Ryley Booth and Mitchell Oliver. Bauer, a former Brandon Wheat King Bantam draft out of Three Hills, Alta., jumpstarted the Vipers just 67 seconds after the national anthem at Royal LePage Place.
“It was a wrister from the high slot,” said Bauer. “I just picked off a pass and shot mid blocker. It felt really good. (Anthony) Latina got the puck for me.”
Bauer and Latina performed some strong corner work to get the puck to Oliver, who also beat Warriors’ veteran goalie Andy Desautels blocker side, four minutes after Bauer’s snipe.
West Kelowna veteran Liam Blackburn responded late in the first period o a powerplay, assists going to Jason Cotton and Kristian Blumenschein.
There was no scoring in the middle session despite the Vipers enjoying a 20-5 shot advantage.
Booth moved up to the top of the circle and wired an insurance marker 2:44 into the third, on the powerplay. Jake Emilio and Jagger Williamson earned helpers. Bauer found the empty net from centre ice with 74 seconds remaining.
Bauer took first star ahead of Desautels (37 saves) and Todyschuk (35 stops).
“They really came on in the last few minutes and Danny stood on his head,” said Bauer. “We played a simple game, getting pucks deep and going hard to the net. We outworked them, but there is room for improvement.”
As expected, the Interior Division is already tight after just three games. The Penticton Vees are first at 3-0, one point ahead of the Vipers, at 2-0-0-1. West Kelowna, Trail Smoke Eaters, Salmon Arm SilverBacks and Merritt Centennials are all 2-1.
The Vipers took on the Warriors at Kal Tire Place Saturday night and entertain the Langley Rivermen in a 2 p.m. matinee today.