With injuries to key players, Vernon Vipers’ head coach Jason Williamson asked his role players to step up. Brendan Persley obliged him with his first-ever B.C. Hockey League hat trick Saturday night at Wesbild Centre.
The Kelowna native scored once in the first period, and added a pair of insurance markers in the third, once on a slick breakaway deke and again on a one-timer set up by Turner Lawson, as the Snakes snapped a four-game losing streak with an entertaining 6-2 win over the Coquitlam Express at Wesbild Centre.
Vernon, now 18-17-1-2, started the action-packed tilt with four unanswered first-period goals, with Mike Zalewski, Adam Tambellini and Colton Cyr, with his first goal as a Viper since being picked up from the Nanaimo Clippers at the trade deadline, finding the net.
The hard-hitting affair featured an quick scrap between Lawson, who has temporarily been shifted to forward, and Mitch Nardi of the Express (22-13-2-2) late in the first frame. Viper winger Jedd Soleway was handed a major and a game misconduct from referee Grant Tyson after he hammered Express defenceman Clinton Atkinson into the end boards later in the first period.
The Express seemed to find a spark in the second frame, getting back-to-back goals 23 seconds apart by speed left winger John Siemer. He fired the first from the hash marks after the Express won a faceoff. The Glendora, Calif. native earned the other by burying a cross-ice feed on an odd-man rush.
Coquitlam cranked up the shot count in the second period, outshooting Vernon 17-6, and 45-26 overall. Rookie netminder Danny Todosychuk (43 saves) had to be sharp as the Vipers were overwhelmed in their own zone at times.
Cole Huggins was pulled after allowing four goals on 12 shots. Khaleed Devji recorded 13 saves on 15 shots in relief.
The loss snapped Coquitlam’s eight-game win streak.
Vernon entertains the Prince George Spruce Kings (19-15-2-3) in a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday at Wesbild.