Defenceman Jason Bird of the Vernon Vipers slips the puck past Shane Poulsen of the Merritt Centennials in BCHL action Friday night at Kal Tire Place. Vernon won 4-0 to move back into first place in the Interior.

Hannoun highlights Vernon Viper offence

Vernon Vipers blank Merritt Centennials 4-0 in BCHL action Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

Soft hands. Hard shot. Demico Hannoun showed a bit of both Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

The North Delta native produced a three-point second period to lead the host Vernon Vipers to a 4-0 shutout of the Merritt Centennials in front of 1,656 B.C. Hockey League fans.

Vernon took a 1-0 lead early in the first period when Colton Sparrow (5th goal) banked a cross pass off a Merritt defenceman and past Devin Kero during a powerplay.

Hannoun’s magic show took over in the second frame, starting with a one-timer off a short feed from Michael Statchuk at the sidewall, beating Kero just inside the post, at 6:39.

Less than two minutes later, Hannoun dangled around a Merritt d-man before serving up a slick backhanded cross-ice feed that Chase McMurphy redirected past a helpless Kero for his fourth goal.

Hannoun completed the offence with his ninth of the season at 10:16 by picking the right corner from the slot. Michael McNicholas set up the play from the corner.

“It felt good,” said Hannoun, of his offensive outburst. “I decided to switch it up. I wasn’t shooting much in the last couple of games so I started shooting a little bit more.”

Hannoun, arguably Vernon’s purest offensive talent, seems to have picked up his play since he returned to the team after competing with Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge.

“I’ve really been working on my consistency, shift after shift,” he said. “It’s been helping a lot.”

Added Vernon head coach Jason Williamson: “He’s working hard away from pucks, and when he gets the puck in areas with time and space he makes plays. He’s fun to watch, he’s fun to coach.”

Each of the three previous tilts between Vernon and Merritt have been one-goal affairs, but once the Vipers got that lucky bounce on Sparrow’s goal, they took over and did a fine job of frustrating the Cents, which is something Merritt usually excels at.

“It was easier because we were on top most of the game,” said Hannoun. “It’s easier to frustrate the other team when they’re losing.”

Given the tightness in the Interior Division – Vernon (15-7-3-4) holds a one-point lead over the Penticton Vees (16-7-1-3), and a three-point margin over Merritt (16-11-1-1) – Centennials’ head coach was surprised by his team’s lack of jump.

“The biggest disappointment to me is both teams understood what was at stake, and for us to be as flat and disinterested as we were is quite concerning,” said Pierce.

“We got outworked. They did a great job of getting to our net and causing havoc.

“Finally in the third period, we got back to ourselves a little bit, but the game was well and done by that point.”

Austin Smith recorded 31 saves for his first shutout of the season. Kero made 32 stops.

“We competed and matched their work ethic and kind of killed them off,” said Smith.

“Lately, if we get up by one goal, we just keep going and going. Getting that first goal is key and you just keep working from there.”

Williamson was particularly impressed with how Vernon didn’t just sit on the lead, especially when the Centennials began mounting some pressure in period three. His third- and fourth-liners kept crashing and banging, his skilled forwards kept generating chances and his back end held Merritt’s forwards in check.

“We didn’t give up a lot,” he said. “You can sometime get a little lazy when the game is probably out of reach. We did a good job of that. We probably had more scoring chances than they did in the third.”

The hard-hitting tilt was punctuated by a scrap in final minute of regulation as towering Vernon d-man Mark Hamilton pummelled smaller Cents’ forward Sam Johnson in front of the Viper bench. Dexter Dancs and Daniel Nachbaur dropped the mitts for a quick tilt early in the second period.

Vernon entertains the 7-18-2-1 Trail Smoke Eaters in a 2 p.m. matinee today at Kal Tire Place.

 

Just Posted

Haunted happenings revealed with Vernon ghost tours

Two unique versions of ghost tours offered

Dress your best for string octet’s Vernon performance

NOCCA opens season with gala evening

Famous Forgeries featured in Vernon art show

Okanagan Artists of Canada prepare for 75th anniversary with 75-year-old art

Website names SilverStar No. 4 most affordable ski hill

HomeToGo looks at rentals, lift passes, accommodations and food to compile list of Top 50

Vernon loves their butter chicken: SkipTheDishes

Delivery app releases 2019 stats for most popular Vernon food orders

VIDEO: #MeToo leader launches new hashtag to mobilize U.S. voters

Tarana Burke hopes to prompt moderators to ask about sexual violence at next debate

Potent power play paces Canucks to 5-1 win over Detroit

Miller nets a pair as Vancouver wins third straight

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

Okanagan man killed in head-on collision on Highway 1 near Salmon Arm

Police say 21-year-old died at scene after pickup truck collided with transport trailer

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

Alberta to join B.C.’s class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

B.C. government claims opioids were falsely marketed as less addictive than other pain meds

Most Read