One point in their last three games has pushed the Vernon Vipers to an honourable mention in the Canadian Junior A Hockey League top-20.
The Vipers, who were rated No. 12 in the 132-team circuit last week, lost 3-2 to the Wenatchee Wild before 2,234 B.C. Hockey League fans Wednesday night at the Town Toyota Centre.
Wenatchee gave up two early shorthanded goals before rallying for their sixth victory in 10 starts. The Snakes dipped to 7-3-0-2.
“We weren’t very good,” said Vernon head coach Mark Ferner. “I thought our start was good so you can’t blame the bus trip. We didn’t win many battles and we didn’t get pucks deep. They refused to get pucks past their dee. We turn it over and now we have to get back and play defence. It’s disappointing. We got exactly what we deserved and they heard about it.”
Captain Jagger Williamson blocked a shot and pushed in on a partial breakaway. He released a low hard shot that eluded Seth Eisele blocker side for his fourth goal of the season. D-man Michael Ufberg had 17 seconds left in a roughing minor.
Keyvan Mokhtari picked the pocket of Jasper Weatherby and deked Eisele to record his fourth of the year to make it 2-0 six minutes later. D-man Shane Kelly had 38 seconds remaining in an elbowing penalty.
The Wild funneled pucks at former Wenatchee goalie Anthony Yamnitsky all night and that strategy paid off at 12:16 of the opening 20 when Daniel Chladek deflected a Sam Morton shot for his second snipe of the year.
The Wild started the second period on the powerplay (Jack Judson off for high sticking) and it took just 41 seconds before Chad Sasaki’s wrister from the right circle found its way through a maze of bodies for the equalizer.
The Snakes earned few chances at the Wild goal with Mokhtari ripping one off the crossbar. Yamnitsky was on point stopping multiple great chances in the middle stanza.
Sam Hesler banged home a rebound in front of the net for the winner after a face-off win 2:17 into the third period. Cooper Zech and Jack Lippis drew helpers.
Despite a couple of powerplays and a definite sense of desperation, the Vipers couldn’t generate the Grade A chances they needed in the final frame.
Wenatchee had allowed just shorthanded goals against in their last 67 games. The Vipers have six shorties on the year. While the Viper broadcast crew counted 14 scoring chances for the Vipers, the official shots on goal were 27-13 Wenatchee.
Vernon hosts the Nanaimo Clippers (5-4-0-1) on $5 Friday tonight (children and teens) before entertaining the Powell River Kings (7-1-1-0) in a 6 p.m. start Saturday.
Wenatchee (6-3-0-1) heads to West Kelowna Friday night to meet the Warriors who share the Interior Division lead with the Vipers.
SNAKE BITES: F Finn Evans and D Mitch Andres were healthy Viper scratches. F Jesse Lansdell served the first of a four-game suspension for a hit on Penticton’s Joe Leahy Saturday night in Vernon Landsell only received a charging minor, but the Vees sent video of the hit to the league…Vernon did not send video of the high hit Luke Reid put on Tanner Wishnowski in the same game…Ty Taylor gets the start in net against Nanaimo…Vernon has gone 1-for-19 on the powerplay their last three tilts…Nolan Welsh and Layton Ahac supplied third-period goals as the Prince George Spruce Kings edged the Merritt Centennials 3-2 before 525 fans at the Rolling Mix Arena in PG…Will Calverley pocketed 1+2 as the Chilliwack Chiefs upended the host Coquitlam Express 4-1 before 325 supporters at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre…Vernon’s Cole Woodliffe had one assist as the Weyburn Red Wings dispatched the La Ronge Ice Wolves 3-2 in Saskatchewan Junior play Wednesday night. Woodliffe had 1+1 as Weyburn upset the Melfort Mustangs 3-2 Saturday. Weyburn is 5-2-0-1, Melfort 9-1-1-0.