With a little help from the record-setting Penticton Vees, the Vernon Vipers have stormed back into contention for the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.
With Penticton’s 7-0 dismantling of the Chilliwack Chiefs for a league record 30th straight win, coupled with Vernon’s 3-1 decision over the Trail Smoke Eaters Tuesday night at Wesbild Centre, the Snakes are now tied with the Chiefs for the fourth and final Interior Conference playoff spot. Both teams share identical 24-20-1-2 records.
Vernon defenceman-turned-forward Turner Lawson, in his first game back after missing five games with a concussion, opened the scoring with his first of the season. The 18-year-old Kelowna product pounced on a redirected point shot by Geoff Crisfield, and shovelled the puck past netminder Lynden Stanwood’s glove at 5:49.
Vernon made it 2-0 when Adam Tambellini collected the puck at the sidewall and set up Aaron Hadley for a quick backdoor one-timer at 13:28. Mike Zalewski jumpstarted the play by carrying the puck deep and out-hustling a few Trail defenders before dishing off to Tambellini.
The Smokies cut the lead in half during a 5-on-3 man advantage in the second period. Veteran d-man Clayton McEwan crept in from the point and squeaked a puck far side past Kirby Halcrow at 8:06.
Vernon sapped Trail’s momentum in the third period when Brendan Persley took a few whacks at a loose puck in front of Standwood, and ended up pushing both the goalie and the puck across the crease at 5:12.
Halcrow recorded 22 stops for his 19th win, and Vernon’s fourth straight victory. Stanwood had 29 stops for the Smokies.
Check out Friday sports for a full recap of Tuesday’s game and a look ahead at Vernon’s Friday-night showdown with the Merritt Centennials. The Snakes visit Chilliwack Saturday.