It is difficult to predict which Quesnel Millionaires team the Vernon Vipers will face tonight at The Vault.
The one that gave up three first-period goals on the way to an 8-1 shelling courtesy of the Snakes last weekend? Or the one that got a 47-save showing from netminder Kirby Halcrow to salvage a 1-1 tie earlier this month?
Vernon forward Kyle Murphy said it doesn’t really matter if Quesnel is hot or not; the Vipers just want to stick with the simple game-plan that earned them five out of six points last weekend.
“We just need to keep getting pucks to the net and keep getting people in front,” said Murphy, a Fair Haven, N.J. product who played last season with the NCAA Division 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
“Lately we’ve had a whole team effort every game, all four lines are going.”
After missing the start of the B.C. Hockey League season with a shoulder injury, Murphy, 20, has picked up his game of late, skating on an all-veteran line with Bryce Kakoske and Dave Robinson.
“It’s a lot of fun. We joke a lot about it (being one of the oldest lines in the BCHL), but we have a responsibility to lead by example. We have a pretty young team,” he said.
Given the infusion of new players into his lineup, head coach Mark Ferner is pleased to see the Vipers (10-5-1-3) just three points back of the first-place Penticton Vees (13-5-0-1). Being that close to the top is good incentive.
“It’s great, especially for a younger team. Every night we know we’ve got to come out and be close to our best to gives ourselves an opportunity to win.”
The Vipers return to Wesbild Centre Saturday night to host the Victoria Grizzlies (9-6-0-1), losers of the first two of a four-game Interior swing. They bowed 6-3 to the Vees on Tuesday and fell 10-7 to the Salmon Arm SilverBacks (13-6) Wednesday.
The Grizz visit the Trail Smoke Eaters (12-6-0-1) tonight at Cominco Arena.
The Vipers will be without the services of Patrick McGillis for the foreseeable future as he sustained an upper-body injury last Saturday against the Mills. Defenceman Elliott Richardson (upper body) has been day-to-day since Vernon’s 5-0 win over the Vees last Friday. Ferner said Richardson will be a game-day decision.
Meanwhile, the Vipers have traded forward Gus Correale to the AJHL Grande Prairie Storm in exchange for future considerations and the rights to defenceman Austin Baeker.
Correale, a Prince George product, was held pointless in nine games with the Vipers. His older brother, Dan, leads the Storm in scoring with 7-14-21 in 19 games.
Baeker, 18, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound Kelowna product, is scoreless in seven games with the WHL Seattle Thunderbirds.