Kirby Halcrow wanted to prove he is the Vernon Vipers’ crease incumbent for a reason.
By not allowing a single goal in main camp scrimmage, or in the Vipers’ annual Blue & White intra-squad game Saturday night at Wesbild Centre, he made his point emphatically.
What’s worrying for Vipers’ head coach Jason Williamson is that the other three tenders – Vernon’s Michael Hails shared the crease with Halcrow on Team White, while Mike Vlanich and Darren Hogg backstopped Team Blue – combined for 15 goals against as the Whites shaded the Blues 8-7.
“You expect your 20-year-olds to come back and put their best foot forward and he’s definitely separated himself from the other guys. He’s shown he’s the guy,” said Williamson, who has decided to roll with Halcrow, Vlanich and Vernon’s Danny Todosychuk into the B.C. Hockey League preseason.
Vernon hosts the Westside Warriors in exhibition play Friday night at Wesbild (7 p.m.).
Having carried the bulk of the minutes for Vernon’s post-season run, the team’s third straight Royal Bank Cup finals appearance, the Grande Prairie product said the offseason was more about healing his 6-foot-2, 218-pound frame than gym sessions.
“You play it every day for eight or nine months, you need to take time off to recuperate,” said Halcrow, who split his summer between Grande Prairie and Grouard, Alta.
Halcrow also had time to reflect on Vernon’s loss to the Pembroke Lumber Kings of Ontario in the RBC final in Camrose.
“We deserved to win that game. Being that close, you definitely want to be there again. I can’t wait for the season to start.
“Training camp gets boring after a while, but it’s been fun seeing the guys again and meeting the new guys.”
The annual intra-squad game looked like it was going to be a wash for White, who built a 4-0 lead on goals by Adam Tambellini, Riley Hunt, Alex Hagen and Aaron Hadley before Patrick McGillis responded for the Blues.
Steven Alldridge, a 1996-born forward, made it 5-1 with a shot from outside the blueline, after which the Blues pulled within a goal on singles by Jedd Soleway, Tanner Burns (both of Vernon) and Connor Hartley.
After the teams traded two goals apiece in the third, McGillis brought the Blues even with 40 seconds to play, only to have Alex Hagen record the winner on a controversial buzzer-beater, awarded by guest referee Ryan Kakoske.
Williamson was thrilled to see the rookies get in on the scoring action as he feels the Vipers will need reinforcements in light of the BCHL’s decision to reduce roster sizes from 23 to 21 players. The Vipers will likely card 12 forwards, seven d-men and two goalies.
“Some guys have definitely made a good impression. It looks good for our AP (affiliate player) situation because we’re going to need them,” said Williamson.
SNAKE BITES: The Vipers took the No. 2 billing behind the Lumber Kings in the preseason CJHL rankings. The Powell River Kings (No. 5) and Penticton Vees (No. 12) were the only other BCHL squads to crack the top-20. The 2012 RBC Cup host Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) were given the No. 6 slot.