Someone’s undefeated season had to go. Rookie Adam Tambellini made sure it wasn’t the Vernon Vipers’.
The 1994-born Edmonton native and son of Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini pocketed two goals and two assists as the Vipers grounded the host Westside Warriors 5-2 in B.C. Hockey League action Friday night at Royal LePage Place.
The Vipers were 3-0 heading into their Saturday night tilt against the 1-2 Prince George Spruce Kings at Wesbild Centre.
With Vernon leading 2-1 after two periods, Tambellini collected back-to-back goals to cap a three-goal spree in a three-minute span to break the game open in front of nearly 1,200 fans early in the third period.
“From his first shift you could see he was getting chances and you just hoped it was going to be one of those night. Once guys like that get comfortable, he can be dangerous every time he steps on the ice,” said Vipers’ head coach Jason Williamson.
The 3-1 Warriors came out flying, throwing everything at the net, said Williamson, who credited Vipers’ netminder Kirby Halcrow (47 saves) for standing tall early.
After Vipers’ power forward Mike Zalewksi, with his team-leading fourth goal, and Warriors’ veteran Max French traded singles in the first period, Vernon jumped in front when Marcus Basara used his game-breaking speed to create in on a 2-on-1 and sneak a puck past Westside starter Steve Racine.
Racine (11 saves) was replaced by Brandon Lane (14 saves) after Basara’s goal, his first of the season.
Marc Hetnik, who played with Catholic Memorial in a Massachusetts prep school league last season, collected his first BCHL goal on a 5-on-3 at 5:06 of the third period. The smooth-skating blueliner teed one up in the middle and ripped his shot high gloveside past Lane.
Williamson was thrilled to see his rookies get in on the scoring, but knows it will take a while for them to feel fully comfortable in the league.
“You know it’s going to come; it’s only three games in. They’ll get better each and every night,” he said.
The game got chippy in the second and third periods, with Viper d-man Turner Lawson more than holding his own in a third-period scrap with Ben Betker.
Worried about consequences of further altercations due to the Junior A Supplement (BCHL disciplinary guidelines), Williamson instructed his players to walk away from any scraps. He credited rookie d-man Geoff Crisfield for doing just that when Westside’s Brett Mckinnon started swinging at him with five seconds to play.
Mckinnon earned a fighting major, instigator and misconduct, while Crisfield took a roughing minor.
SNAKE BITES: Defenceman Luke Juha made his debut for the Vipers Friday night after missing all of main camp and the preseason due to injury…With injuries to blueliners Ryan Renz and Max Mowat, Williamson called up Thomas Swales from the KIJHL North Okanagan Knights for Saturday’s game…Westside captain Izaak Berglund had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher Friday night with a suspected leg injury after he and Jedd Soleway accidentally collided behind the play in the third period.