The Vernon Vipers went to the Kootenays looking for a repeat of last week’s demolition of the Trail Smoke Eaters.
What they encountered Saturday night at Cominco Arena was a first-star performance by Smokie netminder Lyndon Stanwood, who recorded 33 saves for his first-ever B.C. Hockey League shutout and a 3-0 win.
“He was good, but we made him look pretty good. We weren’t crashing the net hard enough,” said Vipers’ head coach Jason Williamson, who is hoping the Vipers can learn from their early-season adversity.
“We’re a young hockey team that’s trying to find its way here. Having a little funk early in the season isn’t necessarily bad for us.”
Vernon’s character will certainly be tested Friday night when they visit the defending RBC Cup champion Penticton Vees at South Okanagan Events Centre. Fred Harbinson’s crew is once again tops in the BCHL at 7-1. Saturday night, the West Kelowna Warriors (3-2-0-1) visit Wesbild Centre.
Vernon is fifth in the Interior at 2-3-0-2, one point behind Rylan Ferster’s Warriors.
Williamson gave rookie keeper Joe Young his second start in Trail, and the upstart Smokies (4-5) got to him on the first shot of the game, with Luke Sandler converting at 1:41 in front of 1,100 fans.
“The first shot of the game, you feel bad for him because it was a D-zone breakdown that led to the goal,” said Williamson.
Trail’s other two snipes both came on the man advantage, and Young (22 saves) couldn’t be faulted for either.
“The first goal we let him (Scott Davidson) walk in almost like a breakaway and (Brent Baltus) banged in a rebound on the second one,” said Williamson.
Special teams and discipline issues continue to haunt Vernon – Trail went 2-for-8 on the powerplay to Vernon’s 0-for-5.
Viper captain Brett Corkey, not renowned for fighting, instigated a scrap with Trail’s Garrett McMullen after he boarded his defensive partner Marc Hetnik in the second period. Williamson had no issue with Corkey standing up for a teammate, but was less thrilled when Pearce Eviston earned a two-and-10 for a blow to the head later in the frame. Jedd Soleway was tossed for checking from behind midway through the third.
“Things weren’t going our way and we got a little bit frustrated,” said Williamson. “The game is called a certain way and you’ve got to live within the rules.”