It was Retro Night Friday as the Vipers showed respect for the great Vernon Lakers teams of the 1980s by wearing snazzy orange and blue pro-style jerseys.
A few fans brought out their old Laker duds in support and the Vipers did their best Dave Oliver, Duane Dennis and Jason Marshall impersonations in a 4-1 victory over the Chilliwack Chiefs.
Adam Tambellini, first star Darren Nowick, third star Colton Sparrow and Alex Hagen, with his first B.C. Hockey League snipe, scored for the 6-0 Vipers. Josh Hansen replied for the Chiefs (2-1), who were known as the Quesnel Millionaires last season.
Retro Night brought back memories for Chilliwack head coach Harvey Smyl, the dean of BCHL bench bosses.
“I loved their uniforms,” smiled Smyl. “It brought back some old times from my New Westminster (Royals) days which was many years ago, It’s good to come back to the Junior A hockey capital of the world.”
The Chiefs, who faced Vernon in the BCHL championship four times in five years in the late ‘90s, had eight Millionaires join the re-born franchise in the Fraser Valley.
“We hit a bump tonight,” said Smyl. “I didn’t think we played very well. We had quite a few passengers out there. It’s certainly not something we wanna be out. We wanna be about work ethic and compete, those times of things, and have everybody doing it.”
The Vipers carried the majority of play, especially in the first period when they outshot the Chiefs 12-5.
“They move pretty well; they’re a quick team, but they couldn’t match us in the speed category and we just kept pucks behind them and went after them all game,” said Sparrow, who had a few great scoring chances and somehow found a mico-sized hole over rookie netminder Mitch Gillam’s left shoulder for the goal of the night, coming out of the corner on a sharp angle.
“That (goal) felt pretty good,” said Sparrow, perhaps extra stoked since a few U.S. college scouts were in the crowd of 1,467 at Wesbild Centre. “Obviously, we needed some insurance there so it was nice to get that one.”
Nowick, who was stoned by Gillam’s glove hand from four feet with 6:57 left in the first period, skated miles both ways and lost control of the puck after taking a breakaway feed coming out of the penalty box late in the second period.
He was rewarded with a goal shortly after when he tapped in a loose puck at the side of the crease to make it 2-0 Vipers.
“With Nowy, you’re gonna get the same thing from him every night,” said Sparrow. “That’s just how he is. He’s a hard-working guy who’s relentless.”
Nowick, who has four goals, ignited Vernon’s first line with Mike Zalewski, who shielded the puck down low like he invented the rubber disc, and shifty John Knisley.
“The whole team was clicking and we pretty much outworked them and got the W,” said Nowick, greeted by a college bird-dog outside the Viper dressing room. “It was nice with everyone putting the puck in the net. We were just too fast for their dee down low and we made them pay for it.”
Viper goalie Kirby Halcrow, back from sick bay, looked far better than Roberto Luongo when he calmly went down and stopped Trevor Hills on a penalty shot early in the second period. The Vipers played the Cents Saturday night in Merritt.