The overnight bus ride from Prince George is difficult at the best of times. For the Vernon Vipers, it was downright miserable after they fell 3-0 to the host Spruce Kings in B.C. Hockey League play Friday night at the Coliseum.
With the game scoreless going into the third period, the Sprucies torched netminder Danny Todosychuk (31 saves) for three goals in just over seven minutes to break the game wide open.
Mitch Eden opened the scoring with a rebound off the rush at 4:14. Christian Weidauer squeezed a point shot through traffic for the 2-0 goal, and Jeremiah Luedke surprised Todosychuk after Vernon defenceman Michael Statchuk tried to ring the puck around the boards, only to have it bounce out front, right to Luedke.
Vernon head coach Jason Williamson called it a lacklustre effort.
“I’m tremendously disappointed in our group right now,” said Williamson. “Our best players need to be our hardest-working players, and they weren’t.
“We were soft, we didn’t finish checks and we let them dictate the game.”
Todosychuk had to be sharp early as Vernon was outshot 9-2 in the first period, and 34-20 overall.
If there was one bright spot for Vernon Friday night, it was the penalty kill, which held Prince George scoreless on five attempts, including a major to d-man Mark Hamilton after he boarded a Spruce King player in the third period.
Williamson said Hamilton, who also earned a misconduct for a blow to the head in the second period, will likely be suspended the next two games.
Williamson noted the energy brought by new centre Josh Betinol, who he picked up Thursday from the SJHL Battlefords North Stars. He said Betinol’s line of Matty Saharchuk and Tyler Povolfskie was Vernon’s best on the night.
Prince George (6-3-0-1) has now won four straight to sit atop the Mainland Division. The Vipers occupy the Interior cellar at 3-4-1-2. They headed right back on the road Saturday to face the Salmon Arm SilverBacks (5-4-0-1).
Troy Mick’s ‘Backs opened their October schedule with a 5-2 win over the Penticton Vees Friday night.
Vernon’s Alex Gillies led the Gorillas with a 2+1, first-star performance. The 18-year-old leads the league with 11-5-16 in 10 games.