Trevor Fitzgerald (#26) and Kyle Murphy (right) celebrate as a puck gets behind netminder Matt Ginn in Friday night B.C. Hockey League play against the Victoria Grizzlies at Bear Mountain Arena. The Vipers won 4-0 to earn their fourth-straight victory.

Snakes steamroll Grizzlies

The Vernon Vipers are happy to keep a lower profile in the B.C. Hockey League these days.

As the two-time defending Royal Bank Cup champions, they usually find teams gunning for them on a nightly basis as it is, so to not be the clear-cut favourite for a change it is a bit of a luxury.

That all might change if they keep playing like they have been over the last two weeks. With four straight wins, and points in their last five games, the Vipers (10-8-2-6) all of sudden find themselves two points back of the first-place Penticton Vees (23-10-1-1) in the Interior Conference.

“We’re just minding our own business, and going about our business,” smiled Viper head coach Mark Ferner, after his club dismantled the host Victoria Grizzlies 4-0 Friday night at Bear Mountain Arena.

Netminder Blake Voth turned aside 19 shots to collect his second shutout of the season before 1,368 fans, leaving Ferner somewhat perplexed when his tender didn’t merit a game star.

“It’s too bad. He made some good saves in the second period,” said Ferner.

Despite the Herbert, Sask. native’s solid performance, Ferner opted to utilize his netminding tandem, playing Kirby Halcrow Saturday night as the Snakes visited the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (15-14-2-2). They end their four-game Vancouver Island tour today (3 p.m.) against the Nanaimo Clippers (17-13-1-3).

“It’s healthy competition. Kirby is going to play (Saturday night) even though Blake pitched that shutout,” said Ferner. “The players know it, both goalies know it, and they guys want to play well in front of both of them.”

The Vipers got off to an idyllic road start Friday night when Marcus Basara (8th goal) opened the scoring at 4:30 of the first period, assisted by first star Dylan Walchuk and defenceman Brett Corkey.

Mike Zalewski (9th goal) made it 2-0 27 second later as he capitalized on a solid effort by Walchuk, beating netminder Matt Ginn (28 saves) from the slot.

Realizing it was the Grizzlies’ first game back after an Interior road swing, Ferner knew it was important to pounce on them early.

“We’ve been there, we know what it’s like and that’s why we wanted to get out to a good start.”

Added second star Zalewski: “We attacked from the start and they couldn’t handle it.”

Zalewski, a New Hartford, NY product, said Vernon’s recent string of success is due to a change in mind set.

“Nobody is going to lay down because we’re the Vernon Vipers, and we’ve finally figured that out and it has been good for us. We realize we have to work for our wins.”

Bryce Kakoske (12th) put Vernon in full control with a shot through traffic from the top of the circle on a second-period powerplay.

Walchuk, with his 17th goal, tying him with captain Dave Robinson for the team lead, capped off the Viper offence late in the second period. Zalewski and John Knisley showed a lot of hustle along the sidewall to generate the scoring chance.

Vernon didn’t ease up in the third period, and Ferner noted the score could have been even more lopsided.

“To outshoot a team 14-2 in the third period in their own rink, you could see they were getting frustrated.

“We just kept going after we got those first two goals. We were happy with the result, obviously, but also with the way we played.”

A trio of teams – Vees, Salmon Arm SilverBacks and Trail Smoke Eaters – have each held first place in the Interior in the last month. It has only helped keep the Vipers under the radar said Ferner.

“It’s too close, it really is. There is not one team that everybody knows is going to run away with it. (Stronger) teams are still winning, but it’s closer.

“It’s good for our guys that we’re in so many close games.”

Just Posted

Vernon embraces LGBTQ/2S community

“We have had lots of engagement and we’ve had over 300 individuals that we’ve been in touch with over the last year.”

Coldstream celebrates spring with Easter egg hunt

The family-friendly event takes place Mackie Lake House Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m.

Vernon woman launches sewing studio

“I know there’s a lot of people up and down the valley that would love to sew.”

Vipers win pivotal game 5 to take 3-2 series lead

Vipers beat the Trail Smoke Eaters by a score of 5-2 and will look to end the series Saturday night in Trail at 7 p.m. at the Trail Memorial Centre. Contributed: Vernon Vipers Staff

None injured in small fire near Lumby

“It looks like it was accidental, definitely nothing suspicious.”

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

Four people displaced by Taylor Road fire

The Kelowna Fire Department say no one wass injured and the cause of the fire is not suspicious

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Former Okanagan teen found safe after disappearing from YVR airport

Ethan Burnett, 14, was found safe in Kelowna on March 22

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Most Read