Vernon Vipers ground Grizzlies in OT

Vernon Vipers brush back Victoria Grizzlies 4-3 in OT in BCHL play Friday night at Bear Mountain Arena.

The Vernon Vipers took a while to get going, even before they got to the rink Friday night in Victoria.

The team bus broke down at their hotel, delaying their arrival by an hour as they prepared to face the host Grizzlies in B.C. Hockey League play at Bear Mountain Arena.

Similar to their transportation woes, the Snakes were a little sluggish at the start, but rebounded to earn a 4-3 overtime win in front of 1,200 fans.

Dexter Dancs buried the OT winner after some good hustle up the wing by Liam Coughlin. Riley Guenther sparked the play with a solid breakout pass.

“Slow start, but we got our legs in the second and we started taking over the game,” said Vernon head coach Jason Williamson, who is without injured  forwards Brendan Persley and Mason Blacklock, and blueliners Ryan Renz and Mark Hamilton for the Vipers’ three-game coastal swing.

“We’ve got some pretty keys players out, but guys have been stepping up and filling key voids.”

Vernon, second in the Interior Division at 17-7-3-4, visited the Cowichan Valley Capitals (12-20-0-1) Saturday at the Island Savings Centre. The Snakes wrap up the trip with a 2 p.m. matinee today with the Coquitlam Express (15-14-0-2) at Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre.

The high-octane Express lead the lead in goals for (124), but are also tied for second in goals against (126).

“They either score six or seven, or they give up six or seven,” said Williamson. “They score in bunches so we’ll have to be on our toes.”

Bill Bestwick’s Grizzlies, second on the Island at 19-7-3-2, outshot Vernon 11-5 in the first period (and 27-23 overall) and jumped out to an early lead on a Jesse Schwartz powerplay goal, his 11th.

Vernon’s powerplay responded in the second period as Michael McNicholas (13th goal) pounced on the rebound from Jason Bird’s point shot at 3:54.

Logan Mick (2nd) then used his wheels to win a footrace for a puck, and beat first star Alec Dillon (20 saves), high blockerside, on a partial breakaway.

Victoria restored its lead midway through the third period on singles less than a minute apart by two of the Fitzgerald triplets, Gerry and Myles (Leo is injured).

“Both Fitzgeralds on one shift; give them time and space and they make you pay,” said Williamson.

With Vernon pressuring the Grizzlies late, Dancs worked the puck back to Jared Wilson, whose point shot was knocked down by Dillon, only to have McNicholas (14th) bury the rebound three minutes left.

Austin Smith recorded 26 stops for his eight win.

The Vipers have only just past the halfway mark, but their defence already has more goals (22) than it did all of last season (14). Williamson said the back end is playing a big part in team’s success.

“They’ve all been chipping in,” he said. “Even with the assists. It’s guys crashing the net and putting the pressure on their goalie.

“I’ve told them that when they see the play moving up the ice, I want them jumping in the play too, being that second option.”

Williamson called up forwards Blaine Caton (KIJHL North Okanagan Knights) and Linden Hora (Major Midget Okanagan Rockets) for weekend action.

Meanwhile, the Penticton Vees retained their grip on first in the Interior with a 5-4 win over the Merritt Centennials Friday at Nicola Valley Arena.

Fred Harbinson’s Vees (19-7-1-3) remain one point ahead of Vernon, with a game in hand.

The West Kelowna Warriors fell nine points back of Penticton after they bowed 4-3 to the visiting Surrey Eagles at Royal LePage Place.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hazardous materials response unit setting up on scene. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Hazmat teams called to UBCO for envelope filled with ‘suspicious substance’

Crews are securing and isolating the area in which the envelope was opened in the lobby of an apartment building

Repairs to the Duteau Creek UV Disinfection Facility are complete, and the facility will begin treating water from the Duteau Creek source with UV disinfection today. The Kalamalka Lake water source for the Greater Vernon Water system has also been turned back on after algae levels dropped. (Morning Star - file photo)
Greater Vernon water disinfection back on tap

Kalamalka Lake algae levels drop; UV disinfection repairs at Duteau Creek plant fixed

A semi-truck blocks a single lane of traffic on Highway 6 near Kalamalka Lake Road in Vernon Thursday, Nov. 26. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Semi-truck blocking single lane near Vernon

Incident near Kalamalka Lake Road delays westbound traffic

Glass of whiskey
UBCO substance use clinic goes virtual

The clinic is adapting the way it provides services as the pandemic continues

Loud beats reverberate through the room as Total Fitness Zumba class participants follow along to the instructor’s moves during a drop-in fundraiser for the Shannon Sharp Learning Circle to be constructed at Salmon Arm West School. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)
City-run fitness classes paused in Vernon

Greater Vernon Recreation Services pauses play in wake of province’s new health orders

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Darrell RIchards and his Harley Davidson Streetglide in front of Discovery House in Penticton on Nov. 5. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Okanagan biker still in running for custom chopper competition

Darrell Richards is sitting in first in the final round of the group stage

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

REN Energy will source waste wood from ATCO Wood Products and other forest companies, as well as brush piles, to create Renewable Natural Gas in a new facility planned for Park Siding just outside of Fruitvale. Townsman file photo.
Kelowna, Calgary energy companies design renewable gas plant near Trail

The new project is in Fruitvale, B.C. and builds on Canada’s green energy economy

Penticton's Courthouse. (File)
Six months jail for robbing Okanagan cannabis dispensary

After time served, the 29-year-old has another month in prison

(Pixabay photo)
Company fined after worker falls through roof at Kelowna construction site

WorkSafeBC says no form of fall protection was used, resulting in serious injuries

Most Read