The two coaches looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and said, “Game on.”
The Vernon Vipers edged the Prince George Spruce Kings 4-3 in overtime during B.C. Hockey League exhibition play Friday night at Kal Tire Place.
Normally, if exhibition games are tied after regulation, the game ends. The 300 fans in attendance were treated to a little free hockey, all of 13 seconds of it.
Thomas Aldworth brought the puck into the Spruce Kings’ zone, missed the net and the puck rattled around to Luke Voltin. Voltin could have drove a mack truck through the centre of the ice, walking in on net and beating Kings’ netminder Jesse Jenks over the shoulder.
“I thought we fared very well,” said Vipers’ captain Riley Guenther. “We gave up a three-goal lead but we got it done in OT and that’s all that matters.”
The Vipers moved to 3-1 in the exhibition season with their final preseason game going Saturday night against the Spruce Kings at the Prince George Coliseum.
The Vipers seemed to have this game by the gills, leading 3-0 part way into the second period.
One of the 16 new Vipers and local product, Blaine Caton, bagged a beauty on a shorthanded break.
“Linden (Hora) got the puck, chipped it out and we were off. I’m not sure how he slid the puck to me on the two-on-one, but he did, and I put it five-hole,” said Caton.
Caton has impressed the coaching staff while playing with longtime friend Jagger Williamson.
“Jagger and I have been playing together since Bantam. It always helps when you have someone out there you can trust,” Caton said.
They aren’t the biggest pairing in the BCHL Williamson is well below six foot and Caton is 170 pounds soaking wet.
“I’ve got to adapt to the speed and the bigger guys, but I am getting used to it and feeling good out there,” said the Caton.
With the regular season right around the corner, the Vipers were tested against the Kings, who made the playoffs last season with 32 wins in the Mainland division.
“Prince George is a big physical team and they bring it every night. Our guys were up to the task tonight,” said assistant coach Eric Godard.
Added Guenther, “It was competitive, but games like that are fun for us.”
And physical it was, with scrums after several whistles and a pair of third period hits that will induce repercussion.
Ayden MacDonald of the Vipers seemed to drive his shoulder into the head of Rider Stoglin in the corner. Mintues later, Vernon’s Johnny Coughlin pushed Braiden Epp head first into the boards. Coughlin’s hit seemed a lot worse than it ended up to be. Both Vipers were handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct. By the book, players that receive a game misconduct are to be suspended two games. The league has yet to rule on MacDonald and Coughlin.
“I didn’t think any of the hits were malicious. The second one, the guy was going to retrieve a puck and he lost an edge before he hit him,” said Godard.
Epp skated off the ice and returned for a shift before leaving for the dressing room.
“I got them out for precautionary reasons. It’s exhibition and we want to be on the safe side with these things,” said Kings’ assistant coach Colton Buffe.
Lost in the game misconducts was the play of journeyman goaltender Jarrod Schamerhorn. Schamerhorn was solid making 23 saves. He had to be sharp as the Vipers spent most of the third period killing majors.
“He has been solid all camp, battling, making big saves. It is a little out of my pay grade; that decision will be left to Kevin (Kraus),” said Godard, on who will be the opening night netminder.
Schamerhorn is competing with local product Danny Todosychuk.
The Vipers open their regular season next Friday in Chilliwack during the BCHL Showcase, when they battle the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Their home opener goes Saturday, Sept. 27, when they face the West Kelowna Warriors.