Vernon Vipers’ forward Michael McNicholas goes in alone on Trail Smoke Eaters’ netminder Riley Corbin in BCHL action Friday at Cominco Arena.

Sparrow snipes pair for Vernon Vipers

Vernon Vipers ground Trail Smoke Eaters 4-1 in BCHL action Friday at Cominco Arena.

After going a month without scoring, Colton Sparrow now has three goals in as many B.C. Hockey League games for the Vernon Vipers.

Sparrow, a 20-year-old Vernon minor hockey product, pocketed a deuce for first star as the Snakes torched the host Trail Smoke Eaters 4-1 Friday night at Cominco Arena.

Sparrow’s first goal came on a tremendous solo effort 7:16 into the second period, when he pick-pocketed a Trail defender and went in alone on a breakaway to beat Riley Corbin with a backhander, five-hole.

“He was playing with energy, moving his feet and playing the way he should be playing,” said Vernon head coach Jason Williamson.

Tyler Povelofskie (2nd goal) had given the Vipers the lead in the first period with a five-hole blast when a Trail defender gave him an open lane to shoot. TJ Dumonceaux and d-man Jared Wilson drew assists.

Dexter Dancs, with his 10th of the season, pocketed the 3-0 goal 4:18 into the third frame, set up nicely by linemate and team scoring leader Michael McNicholas on a 2-on-1 rush.

Sparrow (4th goal) capped Vernon’s attack less than a minute later, jamming home the rebound off a Chase McMurphy shot.

Netminder Austin Smith, who finished with 27 saves and second star, was 31 seconds away from his first shutout of the season when Adam Wheeldon stepped into a bouncing puck in the slot for his fourth of the season.

“It’s tough; Smitty played well,” said Williamson, of the spoiled shutout.

The Vipers (14-7-2-4) held a share of first place with the Merritt Centennials (16-9-1-1) heading into their Saturday night tilt with the fifth-place West Kelowna Warriors (14-9-0-2). Just four points separate the top five seeds, while the Smoke Eaters lag behind in sixth at 7-17-2-1.

In other BCHL play Friday night, the Penticton Vees slipped into second place in the Interior after falling 3-1 to the host Coquitlam Express.

Ryan Rosenthal fired the powerplay winner early in the third period, and added an empty-netter with 12 seconds to play.

The Cents rallied with goals by Jeff Wight and Diego Cuglietta in the final two minutes to upend the Surrey Eagles 5-4 Friday at Nicola Valley Arena.

The Warriors were 6-3 losers to the Chilliwack Chiefs, while the Salmon Arm SilverBacks bowed 3-2 in OT to the host Langley Rivermen.

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