Goalie Danny Todosychuk returned from suspension and made 28 saves for first star as the Vernon Vipers stuffed the Trail Smoke Eaters 3-0 in B.C. Hockey League action Sunday afternoon before 830 fans at Cominco Arena.
Todosychuk, who missed six games after being punished after a brawl Oct. 18 in West Kelowna, improved to 4-1 with a 1.93 GAA.
Anthony Latina’s second-period breakaway goal was the winner for the Vipers, who improved to 10-6-1-1, good for third place in the tight Interior Division. The Smokies (8-9) dropped their their fourth consecutive game and are sixth, three points back of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
“We’re not at the point we were last year, we got the guys, but I don’t know why but things aren’t clicking,” said Smoke Eater assistant coach Craig Clare. “They (the Vipers) play a simple game, and we seem to be trying to overthink things; plays that we made, we can’t make them right now, so it’s up to us to battle through it I guess.”
Thomas Aldworth sprung Latina in all alone on Smokie goalie Brett Clark, and the Toronto native made no mistake as he deked to his backhand and slipped the puck through Clark’s pads to put the Vipers up 1-0 less than five minutes into the middle frame.
It was the fourth game in five days for the Vipers, in which they took five of a possible eight points, and moved into third spot in the division with a 10-6-1-1 record.
“It was the first time we’ve done it, I mean we played three games in two-and-a-half days in three cities so the message that we sent to the kids was just play simple,” said Viper head coach Mark Ferner. “It’s the hardest thing to get young guys to do is just get pucks out, and get pucks deep, but I thought as the third period rolled around we were doing a little more of that, so I’m certainly proud of our group today.”
The Vipers took a 2-0 lead when Liam Coughlin sent a hard pass from the slot to Luke Voltin who tipped it over the glove of Clark for his third goal of the season with 4:47 to play in the second period.
Coughlin netted his second point of the night and 14th of the season with seven minutes to play in the third period. With the Vipers shorthanded, Coughlin carried the puck into the offensive zone, made a couple of slick moves around two Trail defencemen, then dropped it to Mitch Meek in the slot. Meek wired it low blocker side on Clark.
See Wednesday’s Morning Star for further Viper coverage.