Morning Star Staff
It’s back to the future for the Vernon Vipers as they practise at Civic Arena in preparation for a pair of home games after a mediocre B.C. Hockey League road trip.
The Vipers, who stopped the last-place Victoria Grizzlies 4-1 Sunday at the Q Centre, will call Civic home until Friday due to an oldtimers tournament at Kal Tire Place.
Head coach Mark Ferner’s practice plan at the smaller confines of Civic will be more of the same: work on the finer details of the game.
“The game (in Victoria) was up in the air and could have went either way, but at least we salvaged something out of the road trip,” said Ferner, nursing a man cold. “We need to be better. We need to be harder to play against.”
Leading scorer Nick Guiney put the Grizzlies up 1-0 at the 3:21 of the second period, taking a faceoff win from Brayden Gelsinger and sneaking it past Vernon goaltender Andrew Shortridge.
Shortridge made 30 saves and earned first star before 925 fans.
The Vipers equalized at 19:20 of the second, Odeen Tufto winning the draw back to d-man Mac Ferner who buried the shot behind Matthew Galajda for his first snipe of the season.
The Vipers extend the lead to 2-1 at 8:16 of the third when Riley Brandt was sent in all alone and beat Galajda with a pretty move for his fifth of the year. Jagger Williamson and d-man Bo Pellah drew assists.
Nine minutes later, the Vipers caught the Grizzlies pinching and Liam Finlay tapped in a pass from Tufto on a 3-on-1. Linemate Steven Jandric earned the secondary assist on Finlay’s fourth.
Pellah added a shorthanded empty-netter with 25 seconds remaining, his first goal of the campaign.
Vernon improved to 4-5-0-1 and fourth in the Interior Division, a point back of West Kelowna Warriors and one up on the Merritt Centennials. The Grizzlies, who were without three regular blueliners in Brett Sterling, Jake Stevens and Grayson Pears, dipped to 1-6-0-1.
The Vipers, who lost 3-0 Friday night in Powell River, shifted to the Island Saturday night where they lost 5-2 to the Nanaimo Clippers before 1,050 fans at Frank Crane Arena.
Mike Vandekamp’s Clippers got five points from their big line of Sheldon Rempal, Devin Brosseau and Matthew Hoover.
“They have the top three scorers in the league and they load it up and they were good and they got a few lucky breaks on goals,” said Ferner, who was ejected for arguing a non-call on Brosseau with 5:33 left to play.
“Our kids were getting frustrated and once in a while, you have to stick up for your team. He came by our bench, shortened his stick and got one of our guys in the face. I think it may have been Jags. They only gave him a double minor so that was frustrating to our kids and me because there was intent there and we thought it should have been a major.”
Brandt stepped in and fought Brosseau after the incident.
Rempal, a 20-year-old Calgary product headed to the NCAA Clarkson Golden Knights next year, pocketed two assists and first-star honours. He leads the league with 7-11-18.
Brosseau, who has 2-16-18, collected four helpers against the Vipers. The 20-year-old from Saint Lambert, Que. also has a scholarship to Clarkson.
Hoover scored once on the powerplay Saturday and is third in BCHL points with 9-7-16. The 19-year-old Brantford, Ont. native was named the Player of the Week after ringing up seven points. He has a schollie to Canisius College Griffins in New York.
Will Reilly and Corey Renwick, on powerplays, Lucas Finner on a penalty shot, and Chris Dodero handled the other Nanaimo offence. The 6-3 Clippers held period leads of 1-0 and 3-1.
Joe Cipollone (3rd) and Brandt countered for the Vipers, who were outshot 34-33. Shortridge went the distance.
Nanaimo is here Friday night, while the 1-6-0-1 Prince George Kings visit Saturday at 6 p.m, Ferner plans to use newly-signed goalie Brendan Barry at some point this weekend.