Viper goalie Brendan Barry and forward Ben Butcher battle Nick Fidanza of the Cents for space Saturday night.

Viper goalie Brendan Barry and forward Ben Butcher battle Nick Fidanza of the Cents for space Saturday night.

Vipers stay put for playoff chase

With 16 games to play, the Vernon Vipers will strive for a playoff spot with the same group still searching for consistency after Game 42

Morning Star Staff

With 16 games to play, the Vernon Vipers will strive for a playoff spot with the same group still searching for consistency after Game 42 in the B.C. Hockey League.

Rather than make a blockbuster trade involving one of his elite players heading to U.S. college next year, Viper head coach/GM Mark Ferner made just one move at the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Jan. 10 trade deadline.

Vernon shipped defenceman Griffin James to the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in exchange for future considerations (cash).

“Griffin wanted an opportunity to play closer to home and we were able to make that happen,” said Ferner. “This gives our young kids a chance to get in some games. We can AP (affiliate) kids like Carter Stevenson and (Chris) Jandric.

“We could have done some some things, but it would have affected a lot of guys in that dressing room. We can still add one player before Friday. We can AP a ‘95 player if we want.”

James, 18, a native of Aurora, Ont., had three goals and three assists in 35 games. He also compiled 34 penalty minutes.

Both Stevenson and Jandric are enjoying stellar seasons on defence in the B.C. Major Midget League. Stevenson has 33 points in 24 games with the third-place Vancouver NW Giants, while Jandric has 25 points in 27 tilts with the second-place Cariboo Cougars. His brother, Steven, plays for the Vipers.

Red-hot rookie Jimmy Lambert fired his 11th and 12th goals of the season as the Vipers grounded the Merritt Centennials 6-3 Saturday night at Nicola Valley Arena.

“They were all buzzing; everybody played well,” said Ferner.

The Vipers face 10 road games and battled the West Kelowna Warriors Tuesday night. They play the Warriors four more times.

Vernon is tied with the Trail Smoke Eaters for the fourth and final Interior Division playoff berth. The Smokies lost 9-5 to the Surrey Eagles and 2-1 in double overtime to the Chilliwack Chiefs on the weekend.

The Smokies, who have 10 home games remaining, added 5-foot-9 forward Nolan Redler at the deadline. Redler, 19, was leading the Northern Cyclones of Hudson, N.H. with 18 goals and 40 points in the Junior Tier III league.

Vernon finishes January with two games in Salmon Arm, home games with the Silverbacks and Warriors and one road game in Trail.

The Vipers are 7-11-1 on the road, while Trail is 7-14-1.

Brett Stapley (3rd), Riley Brandt (12th), Hunter Zandee (8th) and Joe Sacco (7th) also scored as Vernon stopped the Cents. Vernon product Brett Jewell bagged a pair for Merritt, giving him eight on the season. Ryan Forbes added his seventh.

The Cents led 2-1 after one period, while the Vipers were up 5-2 after 40 minutes. Brendan Barry took the win with 36 saves. He is 3-5. Cole Kehler fell to 10-19 while stopping 27 Viper shots.

The Vipers played much of the game without forwards Christian Cakebread, who broke his nose going hard to the net, and Liam Finlay, injured in the second period.

Merritt traded their second-leading scoring Gavin Gould to the Nanaimo Clippers in exchange for F Zach Court and future considerations

The Silverbacks acquired F Mitch Newsome from the Coquitlam Express and landed F Mitch Skapski from the Chilliwack Chiefs, both for futures.

The Cents welcomed D Ryan Roseboom from the Chiefs for F Ryan Forbes.

SNAKE BITES: Captain Colton McMarthy missed Tuesday’s game serving Game 2 of his suspension for a blow to the head penalty Friday night on the Vees’ David Eccles…Vernon visits Salmon Arm Saturday night…Viper grad Adam Tambellini earned 1+1 as the Hartford Wolfpack edged the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in AHL play Saturday night. Tambellini, New York Ranger property, has 9-5-14 with the Pack. Viper alumni Connor Jones was held pointless with the Tigers. Jones has two assists….Kellen Jones rang up two assists as the Bakersfield Condors shut out the Ontario Reign 4-0 in AHL action Saturday. Jones was in his fifth game with the Condors.