There will be a little extra cheering pep in the stands when the Vernon Vipers play the host Penticton Vees tonight at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
A bus load of more than 60 family members, billets and friends are making the trip south for the start of the Vipers’ annual parents weekend. The Vees have graciously offered to put on a free barbecue for the visiting relatives.
“Every player has someone coming,” said Vipers’ marketing manager Heidi Schrader. “I don’t think that has ever happened.”
Viper defenceman Malcolm Lyles’ mom, Mary, is traveling the furthest to see her boy play, making the 14-hour flight from Florida.
“She must love me,” grinned Lyles, a 20-year-old Miami Gardens product.
“She used to be a cheerleader, and even though she is only 5-foot-4, her voice carries so I’m sure I’ll be able to hear her in the crowd.”
The Snakes, 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games, occupy fourth place in the Interior Conference and are five points back of the first-place Vees (12-4).
Vernon swept the Vees in a home-and-home last month, but Lyles, who missed both games with an injury, said getting a similar result will be more difficult this time around.
“Obviously things have changed since, with a lot of teams getting better as the season has gone on.”
The Vipers return to Wesbild Centre Saturday night to entertain the Quesnel Millionaires (4-9-1), followed by Sunday’s Paint the Rink Pink matinee (2 p.m.) with the cellar dwelling Prince George Spruce Kings (2-13-0-2).
For the first time ever, the Vipers will auction off their limited edition game-worn jerseys in a live auction following Sunday’s game. There will also be a silent auction with Canucks tickets, Predator Ridge golf/spa package, Team Canada jersey and tickets to the World Junior A Challenge in Penticton (with accommodation) up for grabs.
First Choice Haircutters will be on hand again cutting hair by donation, there will be raffle items and the Frisbee toss sales will go to the Canadian Cancer Society along with 50/50 sales.
Fans unable to make it to the game can bid on any silent or live auction items by contacting the Viper office before Sunday at 250-542-6022, or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proceeds go to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Wesbild Centre will be the scene of an all-Canadian match-up as Canada West and Canada East tangle in World Junior A Challenge exhibition play Friday, Nov. 5.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Vipers office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, or at the Wesbild box office on game days starting at 9 a.m.
The WJAC tourney begins Monday, Nov. 8 in Penticton.
n The Powell River Kings pushed their win streak to three with a 5-0 shellacking of the host Spruce Kings Wednesday night at the Coliseum.
Powell River netminder Michael Garteig stopped 35 shots for first star and his fourth shutout in 10 starts.
Second star Chad Niddery, recently committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes, led the Kings’ attack with two goals and two assists. Andrew Pettitt added 2+1.
On Tuesday night, the Kings outgunned the host Mills 5-3 at The Vault.
Niddery, Matt Garbowsky and Cohen Adair each had a goal and a helper in support of Garteig (27 saves).
Spencer Graboski paced the Mills’ attack with a goal and assist.
Powell River (11-3-1-1), the Vees and Langley Chiefs (11-2-0-2) are in a three-way tie for first in the BCHL.
In other Wednesday night action, Sam Mellor netted a pair of goals, including the winner 93 seconds into overtime, as the host Trail Smoke Eaters brushed back the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-3 at Cominco Arena.
Trail tender Kiefer Smiley continued his rock-solid play, stopping 35 shots for the win.