Playing hockey in the Nicola Valley Arena is much like skating on a postage stamp. Just call it a pinball game experience.
There isn’t much ice for creativity, but the Vernon Vipers somehow found ways to manufacture enough offence in a 2-0 B.C. Hockey League win over the Merritt Centennials
“It’s always ugly in that building,” said Viper head coach Mark Ferner. “It was a typical game in Merritt. Pucks are everywhere and you have no time and no space. It’s frustrating for the players. “
Niko Karamanis, playing on a line with Keyvan Mokhtari and Jordan Sandhu, scored both goals as the Vipers improved to 3-0 before 450 fans.
Karamanis converted at 17:21 of the first period on a fray with Sandhu retrieving the puck out of a pile of bodies to start the play. Mokhtari and d-man Jack Judson were credited with assists.
Karamanis, named first star, took advantage of a goofy bounce after d-man Michael Young’s point shot was stopped by Jake Berger. Mokhtari earned the other helper.
Ty Taylor recorded 29 saves for the shutout and third star, while Berger made 30 saves for second star.
Ferner said Taylor had to be aware of any pucks coming into the Vernon zone.
“A lot of things happen in a hurry. You take one step out of the corner and you’re at the net.”
Connor Marritt drew in for fellow rookie Coleton Bilodeau and played well on the fourth line with first-years Josh Prokop and Alex Swetlikoff. Injured D Sol Seibel and freshman forward Adam Panacci were also out of the lineup.
Anthony Yamnitsky, who starred for the league champion Wenatchee Wild last year, will start in net as Vernon visit the Wild tonight.
“That’s going to be a big challenge in Wenatchee,” said Ferner.
The Vipers will be road warriors until Saturday, Oct. 7 when they host the Penticton Vees.
The Wild shaded the host Trail Smoke Eaters 3-2 in double overtime Friday night with Lucas Sowder supplying the winner at 1:34 of the second OT period. Sowder and Ross Armour of the Smokies each scored twice before 1,917 fans at Cominco Arena.
Rookie Lukas Sillinger pulled the hat trick as Penticton grounded the host Salmon Arm Silverbacks 6-2 in front of 945 fans at the Shaw Centre.
In Nanaimo, the Powell River Kings parlayed 3+2 from Kevin Obssuth into a 9-1 shelling of the Clippers before 990 fans at Frank Crane Arena.