Anthony Yamnitsky boosted the Wenatchee Wild to the B.C. Hockey League regular-season banner a year ago.
The 20-year-old Ohio product used his knowledge of the Wild to advantage Friday night, recording 32 saves as the Vernon Vipers dispatched Wenatchee 4-1 before 1,940 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Yamnitsky, released by the Wild during training camp this season, improved to 5-3. He recorded a gorgeous pad save off his former roommate Lucas Sowder after a turnover by Vernon defenceman Michael Ufberg early in the third period when the Wild finally earned some quality scoring chances.
“I always love playing in this barn,” smiled Yamnitsky, chosen first star. “I only played here once last year and had a pretty good outcome and followed it up with the win tonight, my first home win. It was definitely something to look forward to, playing against them. I know their shots so it was more about just trying to read the play just like any other team. I was trying not to get too high or too low, just staying even.”
Brett Stapley converted his ninth and 10th snipes of the season, while captan Jagger Williamson registered his seventh and Jimmy Lambert pocketed his eighth for Vernon.
AJ Vanderbeck spoiled Yamnitsky’s shutout bid with 3:49 to play with a low point shot. Ufberg had 29 seconds left in his minor. Vanderbeck, who rang up 39 goals with Wenatchee last year, wasn’t stoked with the Wild’s moxy.
“We just didn’t come out as strong as we needed to,” said the Colorado product who just signed a scholarship offer with the Ohio State Buckeyes. “We didn’t get pucks deep and bang bodies and they took it to us a little bit and we gotta be better.”
Vanderbeck, who has six goals this season, said the Wild failed to generate much of their track-meet forecheck while standing back.
“We know they are a hard team to play against and we need to bring our A game.”
Williamson netted the winner at 5:13 of the second period, taking a feed from Jesse Lansdell and beating Wenatchee net detective Seth Eisele five-hole from in tight on Parents Weekend.
“We played a full 60 minutes,” said Stapley, second star ahead of Lambert. “Our lines were clicking and we had a few big penalty kills and ultimately we put more in the net than them. We did a good job defending tonight; our defence was solid and Yam stood on his head. I’m sure it’s nice for him to get a win against his former team.”
Stapley opened the offence on a powerplay at 5:35 of the first period after Ufberg rattled a slapper from the point off theend boards and Stapley knocked the puck out of mid-air past Eisele.
Eisele recorded spectacular back-to-back saves off Jordan Sandhu and Lambert early in the second period beforeWilliamson connected.
Stapley made it 3-0 midway through the middle stanza with a sweet toe drag which fooled d-man Chad Sasaki beforeburying a low wrister glove side. Sandhu drew the gorgeous assist.
Lansdell tossed the heaviest hit of the night on Sowder in the dying seconds of the period.
Lambert upped the lead to 4-0 at 7:25 of the third with a beauty shot from the slot after a behind-the-net feed by SandhuD-man Sol Seibel was also in on the bang-bang play.
The Vipers improved to 11-4-0-2 for sole possession of first place in the Interior Conference. The Wild dipped to 10-5-0-1. Wenatchee outshot Vernon 33-30 but most of their shots were from the perimeter. Vernon entertained the West KelownaWarriors (11-5-0-0) Saturday night, while Wenatchee hosted Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
SNAKE BITES: The Wild carry three Canadians, including former Penticton Vee F Nathan Iannone. Wenatchee leading pointgetter Jasper Weatherby drew the primary assist on Vanderbeck’s goal. Weatherby has 13-7-20…Seibel took the Fortis Energy Player of the Game honour…Injured F Tanner Wishnowski did not play for Vernon…The Wild had to cover one of their assistant captain letters since only three alternates are allowed under Canadian Amateur rules…Levi Glasman scored with 2:43 left as Trail Smoke Eaters clipped Merritt Centennials 5-4 at Nicola Valley Arena…Jared Nash recorded a deuce as the Vees iced the Bulldogs 4-2 before 3,021 fans…Jared Ross converted at 3:10 of OT as the host Surrey Eagles shaded Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-3.