Brian Adams of the Wentachee Wild, right, tries to put the brakes on Teddy Wooding of the Vernon Vipers in B.C. Hockey League play Friday night at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Brian Adams of the Wentachee Wild, right, tries to put the brakes on Teddy Wooding of the Vernon Vipers in B.C. Hockey League play Friday night at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Vipers shut down Wenatchee

Judson earns first star with 1+1

Their No. 1 forward line manned the press box in civvies. Their all-star second-year forward Josh Prokop was in Red Deer making his Western Hockey League debut with the Calgary Hitmen.

Neither point mattered to the Vernon Vipers as they showed true grit, character and a whole lotta of heart by stopping the defending B.C. League champion Wenatchee Wild 2-0 before 2,089 highly appreciative fans Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

Sophomore defenceman Jack Judson looked more like Jack Johnson, scoring once and setting up another to earn first star as the Vipers improved to 3-2-2 for a three-way share of third place in the Interior Division with the Wild and Merritt Centennials – 6-3 losers to the Penticton Vees.

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Wenatchee, who defeated Vernon 5-3 on opening night here almost a month ago, dipped to 4-4. The Wild lost 5-2 to the West Kelowna Warriors Wednesday night in Washington State.

The Warriors top the table at 5-3 after grounding the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, one point in front of the Trail Smoke Eaters, who iced the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 7-3.

Captain Jagger Williamson, a fifth-year veteran, and skilled forwards Jesse Lansdell (suspension) and Alex Swetlikoff watched the game. Both Williamson and Swetlikoff are on injured reserve and doubtful for Saturday night when the Vipers entertain the Centennials.

Viper head coach Mark Ferner, who went with three lines, called it a terrific effort.

“From our goaltender (Aidan Porter) out, they all played very hard for one another and the coaching staff is very proud of every one of them,” Ferner said on the Beach Radio post-game show. “They all had a terrific, positive impact on the hockey game.”

The Wild, who have dropped three straight, outshot the Vipers 16-5 in the first period with Porter making some stellar stops. Wenatchee pretty much dominated play until Josh Latta and Ben Helgeson both enjoyed Grade A chances in the final two minutes.

Newbie Viper defenceman Landon Fuller, a 6-foot-5 skyscraper, delivered a beauty hit on Murphy Stratton just inside the Wenatchee blueline nine minutes in, becoming an instant crowd favourite. Fuller earned the secondary assist on Connor Marritt’s winner 92 seconds into the second period, won multiple puck battles along the wall and in the corner, and delivered a clutch shot block on Matt Gosiewiski with four minutes remaining.

Porter’s best two saves of the opening 20 came when he made a crest stop off a Stratton shot on an early powerplay and then neatly blocked a deflection by Brian Adams. Vernon killed two penalties in the first period finished with six kills. They went 8-for-8 on the kill in their last Bauer Showcase game against the Surrey Eagles.

On Vernon’s first goal, Judson’s shot went just wide of the Wenatchee net with Marritt somehow bouncing the rebound past Wenatchee goalie Austin Park. Marritt, who skated on the top line with Latta and Elan Bar-Lev-Wise, has two goals on the season.

Just 10 minutes later, Judson wired a low slapper from the mid ringette line, 27 seconds into Drake Usher’s roughing minor. Latta, who was named the Fortis Energy Player of the Game, and Bar-Lev-Wise earned assists.

Coleton Bilodeau of the Snakes was stopped by Park on a breakaway with 5:42 left in the middle stanza, drawing a penalty to Adams. Bar-Lev-Wise took an interference penalty 13 seconds later to snuff out that powerplay chance.

Vernon outshot Wenatchee 9-8 and showed far more energy and pushback than they did in the first period.

Porter registered another nine saves in the third period, including a sharp toe stop on Christophe Fillion, who scored twice last visit to Vernon.

With Park on the bench for a sixth attacker, the Vipers missed two glorious chances for insurance with d-man Mitch Andres just missing with 90 seconds left on a shot from just past centre, and Judson coming a foot away with a rink-length wrister with 18 seconds to play.

Newcomer Max Palaga, who was a back-up with the WHL Kamloops Blazers last year, was Porter’s caddy Friday night. Rookie netminder Aidan Hosein is still on the Viper roster.


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