For The Morning Star
CHILLIWACK — The Vernon Vipers gained a point by losing 5-4 in overtime to the Victoria Grizzlies Saturday afternoon in B.C. Hockey League Bauer Showcase action at Prospera Centre.
That was pretty much the only positive the Vipers were taking from Game 2 of the regular season.
“I thought we were absolutely terrible today,” said Viper interim head coach Kevin Kraus. “I don’t know, maybe they were tired. The work ethic wasn’t there. We were just throwing pucks away to throw pucks away. We didn’t make smart passes, we didn’t want to move our feet.”
The Vipers had a 3-1 first-period lead on goals by Anthony Latina, Liam Coughlin and Trevor Fidler. Kevin Massy had a powerplay snipe for Victoria. Then things began to fall apart.
Garrett Forster got the Grizzlies within a goal with the only tally of the second period. Brett Gruber used the powerplay to even the game at three five minutes into the third. Forster then put the Grizzlies ahead with a shorthanded tally two minutes later.
“I think we let up. We were in the driver’s seat for a couple of periods,” said Latina. “When you do that, they have momentum.
“I think they were just relentless on the forecheck. They were causing us to turn over pucks. They’ve got big bodies and they were throwing them around. We were on our heels a little bit there.”
Latina forced overtime with 76 seconds left when he crashed the Grizzlies’ net forcing the puck in past Michael Stiliadis, who was the Top Goalie in the 2014 Royal Bank Cup with the Dauphin Kings. Latina played in the RBC final with the Carleton Place Canadians.
Nearly four minutes into the four-on-four extra frame, Mitch Meek potted the winner on a mistake by the Vipers.
“We just let them run all over us,” said Kraus.
Latina, who scored twice and added an assist against the Grizzlies, agreed their performance was a contrast from their victory against the Cowichan Valley Capitals the night before. He said they were high on themselves and it was visible.
The Vipers’ powerplay was a non-factor again, going 0-for-7, while the Grizzlies were 2-for-5.
Vipers’ alternate captain Ken Citron said it was was a tough loss, but looking at the bright side, he’s happy they got three of four points.
“There is a lot of work to be done,” said Citron, adding they needed to chip more pucks in and use their speed. “We need to be a lot better than that. Blowing a three-goal lead is not acceptable at this point. I think everybody wished they had played a little bit better.”
Jarrod Schamerhorn turned aside 30 shots in the loss, while Stiliadis made 20 saves.
SNAKE BITES: Vernon product Harlan Orr scored once as the Trail Smoke Eaters edged the Powell River Kings 4-3 in overtime Sunday morning…Vernon 16-year-old d-man Noah Turanski earned his first BCHL goal as the Coquitlam Express lost 8-3 to the Smokies Saturday afternoon Connecticut’s Charlie Zuccarini supplied five goals for Trail…Vernon’s Curtis Lazar scored once Monday night as the Ottawa Senators lost 3-2 to the New York Islanders in NHL split-squad play in St. John’s, Nfld. Lazar tapped in a rebound of a David Legwand shot.