Cowichan Valley defenceman Devin Dambrauskas tries to knock Vernon's Trevor Fitzgerald off the puck in B.C. Hockey League play Wednesday night in Duncan. The Vipers won 5-2. They face the Victoria Grizzlies tonight at Bear Mountain Arena.

Lyles assists Viper victory

The scoresheet credited Malcolm Lyles with a trio of first assists. Vernon Vipers’ head coach Mark Ferner joked he should have had four.

The brawny Viper blueliner accidentally got a stick on the Cowichan Valley Capitals’ opening goal in B.C. Hockey League play Wednesday night at Island Saving Centre, however he more than made amends in helping Vernon record a 5-2 win before 675 fans.

With the game tied 1-1 after 20 minutes, the 20-year-old Miami Gardens, Fla. product used his unorthodox, yet highly effective point shot to set up second-period goals by Marcus Basara (7th goal), Kyle Murphy (8th) and Zach McPee, scoring his first goal as a Viper.

“It was nice considering the full day of travelling. I felt pretty good out there,” said Lyles, who earned first star.

Added Ferner: “He’s starting to figure it out. He was simple when he needed to be and he is starting to get pucks to the net.”

The Capitals’ Stephen Saretsky (5th), with a little help from Lyles, beat netminder Kirby Halcrow for the opening goal at 5:49 of the first period.

Dylan Walchuk (15th), with the first of two goals on the night, equalized for Vernon 10 minutes later when he got a touch on Adam Thompson’s powerplay point shot.

Vernon, tied with Cowichan for the league’s second-worst powerplay at 17.16 per cent, connected twice with the extra man. What’s more impressive is they didn’t take a single penalty until Lyles and Clayton Chessa both earned coincidental unsportsmanlikes with 36 seconds remaining.

“They came out and tried to be physical, but our guys kept their heads,” said Ferner. “We made some adjustments to their penalty kill, and we could have had a couple more (powerplay goals). We’re getting our opportunities.”

Capital’s sniper Mike Hammond (26th), assisted by Jordan Grant and Chessa, cut Vernon’s lead to two late in the second period. Walchuk (16th) iced the game midway through the third frame.

While Ferner was pleased to see Hammond and Grant, both top-10 BCHL scorers, kept in check, he said the Vipers could have been better defensively.

“We talked about being aware when they’re out there. They have a great ability to find each other,” he said.

Halcrow turned aside 31 shots for his second win in as many starts for Vernon. He stopped Hammond, the league’s No. 3 scorer (26-27-53 in 33 games) on a pair of breakaways.

Chase Martin, acquired in late November from the Salmon Arm SilverBacks, made 40 stops for the Capitals.

The Snakes (18-8-2-6) leapfrogged the Salmon Arm SilverBacks (21-11) into second place in the Interior standings, trailing the Penticton Vees (23-10-0-1) by three points. They continue their four-game Island tour tonight against the Victoria Grizzlies (20-11-0-2) at Bear Mountain Arena.

They face the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (15-14-2-1) Saturday at Weyerhaeuser Arena and the Nanaimo Clippers (16-13-1-3) Sunday at Frank Crane Arena.

SNAKE BITES: The Everett Silvertips acquired McPhee’s Western Hockey League rights from the Tri-City Americans in exchange for defenceman Paul Sohor in a Tuesday trade. Everett GM Doug Soetaert confirmed McPhee will remain with Vernon for the remainder of the season, saying it is more important for him to get more playing time… Former Viper Nick Amies, an Enderby product, made his return to the Capitals’ lineup against Vernon after missing most of the season with a concussion… Viper forward Aaron Hadley missed Wednesday’s game as he competed with Team West in the CJHL Prospects Game in Dauphin, Man. Team East swept Team West two straight, winning 2-1 Tuesday night and 7-1 Wednesday night.

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