A trio of powerplay goals, two overtime periods, a penalty shot and a few missing teeth.
It all added up to a wild night of B.C. Hockey League action Friday at Wesbild Centre as the Vernon Vipers battled the Westside Warriors to a 2-2 draw before 1,848 fans.
The two clubs, tied for fourth in the Interior Conference, played again Saturday night at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna. The Snakes (15-8-2-6) host the Surrey Eagles (18-11-1-1) today in a 2 p.m. matinee at Wesbild.
After some tight play early in Friday’s first period, the Warriors’ Kyle Singleton put his team down two men when he locked knees with Viper forward Kyle Murphy coming across the middle on a Viper rush. Quinn Gould was already serving an interference minor.
Vernon needed just 18 seconds to click on the ensuing 5-on-3, with first star Dylan Walchuk (12th goal) firing a weak shot from in close that beat netminder Kevin Boyle (36 saves) low at 14:19. D-man Stevie Weinstein collected the assist as fans littered the ice with stuffed animals as part of the Vipers’ Teddy Bear Toss promotion. The toys will be donated to the Kiss FM Santa Toy Club.
The Vipers had a second two-man advantage later in the frame but couldn’t capitalize.
Said Walchuk: “We would have liked to bury a few more on the powerplay, but we’ve just got to bear down.”
The Warriors (17-10-2-2)stormed back in the second frame with a pair of powerplay goals. Third star Shaun Hochhauson (2nd) collected the first one at 5:29, banging in a loose puck on Blake Voth’s doorstep after a Tom Kroshus point shot
With Hochhausson providing the screen in front of Voth, smooth-skating Grayson Downing (21st) wired the other at 15:36.
“It was a tight game, back and forth, lots of shots both ways,” said Hochhausen, a Kelowna native. “Both our goals were special teams, we were clicking tonight.”
The Vipers went into desperation mode in the third period, and applied a relentless forecheck on Westside’s depleted blueline.
Mike Zalewski used solid body position to cut in front of the net with a Warrior defender draped all over him. Boyle stopped the initial shot, but Walchuk (13th) swooped in to bury the rebound. 15:42
“We had a couple good shifts back-to-back and we started getting a little bit of momentum and finally we ended up tying the game up,” said Vipers’ head coach Mark Ferner.
Added Westside head coach Darren Yopyk: “We were down to four dee early. We were a little tired and they come at you in waves. They’re a very good forechecking team, they have good speed… and we hung on for a point.”
Voth (23 saves) came up with his best save while the Vipers were shorthanded in the early seconds of OT, making a sensational stretch pad stop on Singleton to keep his team alive.
Later in OT, Viper veteran Bryce Kakoske looked assured of scoring the winner, but Alex Grieve pushed the net off its moorings before the puck crossed the line, and referee Jim Maniago awarded the Vipers a penalty shot as a result.
Kakoske lost the handle on his backhand attempt and missed the net.
In double OT, Kroshus looked like he might need a trip to the dentist after he got clipped in the high slot.
The Vipers’ Malcolm Lyles, broke one of his own teeth in the third period.
SNAKE BITES: The Vipers dressed defenceman Turner Lawson of the KIJHL Kelowna Chiefs as their seventh defenceman Friday night, but lost him in the first period when he sustained a concussion. The 16-year-old Kelowna native has 3-8-11 and 94 penalty minutes with the Chiefs this season… There will be a public skate with the Vipers following today’s game against Surrey.