Vipers record third straight Interior pennant

Kyle Murphy's hat trick paces Viper offence.

Forward Kyle Murphy scored his first-ever B.C. Hockey League hat trick, including the winner late in the first period, as the Vernon Vipers grounded the Trail Smoke Eaters 4-2 Friday night at Wesbild Centre.

The win improved Vernon to 35-11-4-9, guaranteeing them a third straight Interior Conference pennant and a first-round playoff bye.

The Snakes end their regular season with a Sunday matinee (2 p.m.) against the Quesnel Millionaires.

Despite having to kill off three straight penalties, including a game misconduct to Zach McPhee for a check from behind on Trail’s Curtis Tonello early in the first period, the Vipers managed to break out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Murphy and David Robinson.

Vernon’s uncharacteristic lack of discipline caught up with them later in the first as Travis St. Denis broke across the blueline on the powerplay and fired a shot that appeared to redirect off a player in front of netminder Blake Voth at 12:51.

Vernon pushed ahead four minutes later, scoring seconds after a Trail penalty expired. Malcolm Lyles wristed a puck on netminder Kiefer Smiley, but Murphy was there to the rebound.

The Fair Haven, N.J. native completed the trick midway through the second period.

The Smokies’ Scott Jacklin completed the scoring with just over a minute to play.

Check out the Sunday sports section of The Morning Star for a complete wrap-up of Friday’s game, including player and coach comments.