Hot goaltender lifts hometown Spruce Kings past Vipers

It was a good road game for a young B.C. Hockey League team, but the breaks and bounces didn’t go the Vernon Vipers way Friday night in Prince George.

The Spruce Kings scored two first period powerplay goals and added a goal on one of their only two shots of the final period to down the Vipers 3-1 in front of 702 fans at the Prince George Coliseum.

The win was the first of the year for the Spruce Kings, who went 2-7 on the powerplay, and were outshot 45-13 by the Vipers, including 36-6 over the final two periods.

“We deserved a better fate,” said Vernon head coach Mark Ferner. “We could have had 50 shots. What are you going to do? We got guys hitting posts, missing empty nets and that’s where we need to learn to be better. When we get these opportunities, we need to bear down.”

Chris Bodo scored powerplay goals at 10:13 and 17:08 to give the Kings a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. After a scoreless second period, the Vipers peppered first star Ryan Benitez with 23 shots in the third, the only one to beat him was a point shot by Elliot Richardson at 12:52, Mark Basara and Bryce Kakoske drawing assists.

Justin Fillion, with the Spruce Kings’ only scoring chance of the period, beat Blake Voth at 14:58.

Vernon was 0-7 with the man advantage, and have given up five powerplay goals in their last two games, both losses.

The Vipers, 2-3-0-1 on the year, visited the Quesnel Millionaires Saturday, and return to Prince George today to finish off their three-game swing.

In other Interior Conference action Friday, the Westside Warriors leapfrogged past the Vipers into fourth place with a 3-2 win at Nanaimo. Penticton Vees improved to 4-3 with a 3-1 win at Quesnel. The Mills are 2-2.

Powell River shut out Merritt 3-0 with Vernon’s Tyler Steel being named first star in the loss after making 35 saves in goal for the Centennials.

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