There’s nothing like a powerplay binge to bust out of a three-game goal drought.
The Vernon Vipers connected on each of their three man advantages, in succession, on the way to a 6-2 win over the host Victoria Grizzlies in B.C. Hockey League action Friday night.
After traveling all day, the Snakes, second in the Interior Division at 31-15-1-2, didn’t arrive at The Q Centre until about 5:30 p.m. Head coach Mark Ferner thinks it may have helped as the short turnaround didn’t give goal-starved Vipers time to dwell on their past few outings.
“We had real good efforts from a lot of people,” said Ferner. “Schammy (netminder Jarrod Schamerhorn) was good, the dee were good and we didn’t turn over as many pucks.
“A few shifts we had them hemmed in there, and that can take the wind out of their sails if you follow it up with a few good shifts.”
Vernon forward Riley Brandt, named first star, opened the scoring in front of nearly 1,000 fans with his ninth of the season. The feisty Trail product collected a turnover in the high slot, then turned and fired past Michael Stiliadis, who had a cup of coffee with the Vipers last season.
The 22-17-1-10 Grizzlies stole the momentum with a goal eight seconds before the ice clean, and added another in the opening minute of the second frame. D-man Kevin Massey (7th goal) and sniper Brett Gruber (31st) handled the scoring.
Second star Brandon Egli (2nd), who was traded to Vernon along with fellow d-man Mitch Meek from Victoria in October, pulled the Vipers even with a point shot through traffic.
After that, Vernon’s powerplay went to work, starting with a Colton McCarthy wraparound for his seventh goal. Liam Coughlin (20th) deposited the rebound off a Luke Shiplo point blast, again with bodies in front of Stiliadis.
Anthony Latina (14th) capped the powerplay barrage in the final minute of the second frame, assisted by McCarthy and Egli.
“We shot the puck more with more traffic,” said Ferner. “And instead of going post-and-out, they’re going post-and-in. It was good for our group.”
Vernon rookie d-man Johnny Coughlin jumped up in the rush with Latina to complete the offence with his second of the year.
Schamerhorn recorded 22 saves for his 21st win. He was expected to get the start Saturday night when the Vipers visited the Cowichan Valley Capitals (18-28-2-2) Saturday at Island Savings Centre.
Danny Todosychuk will likely be in net today when Vernon wraps up a three-game road swing today (5 p.m.) against the Chilliwack Chiefs (28-16-1-3).
The Chiefs bowed 3-2 in OT to the BCHL-leading Penticton Vees Friday at Prospera Centre.
In other Interior Division play Friday, the host Salmon Arm Silverbacks iced the West Kelowna Warriors 4-1 at the Shaw Centre.
The win brought ‘Backs (22-19-3-5) to within two points of the Warriors (24-21-0-6) for the final Interior playoff spot.
The Merritt Centennials needed extra time to stop the Trail Smoke Eaters 5-4 at Cominco Arena.
John Teves recorded the OT winner for Merritt, while ex-Viper Dallas Calvin fired 2+2 for Trail.
SNAKE BITES: Vernon’s third-ranked powerplay (81.22 per cent) killed off each of Victoria’s four powerplays…Ferner credited forward Mackenzie Bauer with a solid effort after a two-week absence to injury.