Morning Star Staff
Another huge piece of the Vernon Vipers heartbeat will be in civvies Wednesday night at Kal Tire Place.
Alternate captain Jagger Williamson, who is a work of art on the art of work, has been put on injured reserve with a back injury. The Vipers host the Langley Rivermen in B.C. Hockey League play at 7 p.m.
“He has a cracked vertebrae,” said Viper head coach/GM Mark Ferner. “He got crosschecked in Victoria (Saturday, Nov. 5) and the tough bugger played through it. I’m not sure how long he will be out.”
Williamson played almost three full games following the crosscheck, leaving early in the third period in Saturday night’s 3-1 home loss to the Penticton Vees before 2,625 fans.
Williamson joins the grocery list of wounded warriors which already includes leading scorer Jimmy Lambert, rookie d-man Chris Jandric, feisty forward Jesse Lansdell and captain Riley Brandt (suspended until Nov. 27 when Vernon visits the Rivermen).
“We’re missing five pretty good players,” said Ferner. “We’ll bring up Brody Dale (from the Junior B Kelowna Chiefs) again and see where we are on game day.”
Lansdell is probable after suffering a bruised knee in Friday night’s victory in Penticton.
Second-period goals five minutes apart from Ty Amonte and Taylor Ward gave the Vees a split of the weekend home-and-home series. Penticton is ranked No. 6 in the 132-team Canadian Junior Hockey League.
The game honoured First Responders in the North Okanagan, drawing Vernon’s largest home crowd of the season.
“We played hard,” said Ferner. “We’re disappointed that we couldn’t get it done, but the effort was there.”
Ferner noted there were a few communication breakdowns which led to the Vees goals, errors which are being dealt with in practice.
“I told the guys I’m not letting my foot off the gas.”
Freshman Snakes d-man Carter Stephenson wired his fifth of the year at 9:28 of the opening period. Stephenson took a cross-ice pass and buried a one-timer from the left wing. Michael Ufberg and Williamson drew assists.
Penticton’s Grant Cruikshank responded with his 17th with 61 seconds left in the opening 20, beating goalie Ty Taylor five-hole after taking a feed by Owen Sillinger, the son of one-time NHLer Mike Sillinger.
“Anytime you get a goal in the final minutes of a period, it’s a momentum builder and the guys were feeding off that in the intermission and for the rest of the game,” said Penticton assistant coach Jason Becker.
Amonte – son of former NHLer Tony Amonte – scored the winner at 7:27 of the middle frame, taking a nice pass from Nicholas Jones and beating Vernon goalie Ty Taylor. Duncan Campbell had his shot hit a defender’s stick from the slot, but it knuckled over to Amonte at the opposite side of the net.
Amonte quickly spun off his mark and fired into an open net for his first in seven games
Ward, who saves his best games for Vernon, added insurance at 12:26 when defenceman Jonny Tychonic’s point shot hit a Vipers’ stick and went right to Ward, who fired it past Taylor. Ward is the son of retired NHLer Dixon Ward.
Penticton outshot Vernon 27-26 with Mat Robson improving to 15-4. Taylor is 7-5.
It was the Vees’ eighth straight regular-season victory in Vernon, dating back to 2013-14.
Penticton kept things simple as they went to 19-4 atop the 17-team BCHL.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty,” said Becker. “We knew we had to outwork them to be successful.”
The Rivermen come to town after a 7-0 ambush of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
Banff product Ryan Barrow – who has a scholarship to Dartmouth Big Green in New Hampshire – rang up 1+4 for the Rivermen, who are 8-11-3-1. Barrow leads Langley with 10 goals and 28 points.
“They’ve got some guys you’ve got to be aware of,” said Ferner. “Max Kaufman (University of Vermount commit was on injured reserve last game) is a good player (25 points). We will show the kids video of their tendencies and take it from there.”
SNAKE BITES: Langley is getting big production from D Cam Ginnetti. The Vancouver native has two goals and 24 points. He’s committed to the Clarkson Golden Knights in New York. Rivermen veteran Bo Didur is one of the best goalies in the league…Ferner was high on Dale’s work ethic Saturday. The Quesnel product has 13 goals and 29 points with the KIJHL Chiefs…The Jones twins – Connor and Kellen – each scored in regulation and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (7-4), the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, held on in a four-round shootout to earn a 3-2 victory over the host Syracuse Crunch (6-3) Friday at the Oncenter War Memorial Arena. The Jones’ twins, who led Vernon to back-to-back RBC titles in 2009-10, became the first pair of brothers to score in the same AHL game since Jan. 14, 2005.