Vipers searching for first win against Penticton

Vernon Vipers look to overcome slow starts to earn their first B.C. Hockey League win over Penticton Vees.

Slow starts have killed the Vernon Vipers in their last two encounters with the Penticton Vees.

If Vernon wants to hang with Penticton atop the B.C. Hockey League standings, head coach Jason Williamson said his team can’t afford to sputter in their third meeting tonight at Wesbild Centre.

The second-place Snakes (9-4) trail the first-place Vees (11-2-0-1) by five points in the Interior Conference race, with a game in hand.

“We got behind the eight-ball and just ended up chasing the last couple games,” said Williamson, of their previous tilts, both 6-2 losses.

“We want to start playing with that edge early. Play with that chip on their shoulder from the drop of the puck and we’ll be fine. If we win the dots-to-the-boards game, we’ll be OK.”

However, with Penticton’s powerplay clicking at nearly 31 per cent – Vernon’s is sixth at just over 21 per cent – Williamson knows there is a fine line between controlled aggression and two minutes in the penalty box.

“You just have to be aware of who you’re on the ice against,” said Williamson. “If you’re going to take a penalty, you better make sure it’s a good penalty. Someone better be getting run over.”

With a trio of Vipers – defencemen Luke Juha and Brett Corkey, and forward Aaron Hadley – trying out for Team Canada West, Williamson wasn’t sure what his lineup would look like as of the Morning Star’s press time Tuesday afternoon.

Whoever makes head coach Kent Lewis’s team will be staying in Langley for the World Junior A Challenge, Nov. 7-13.

Williamson hinted that Vernon’s Cole Sanford might be called up from the KIJHL Revelstoke Grizzlies.

SNAKE BITES: Viper captain Pat McGillis began light skating Tuesday for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in the Vipers’ 4-1 win over the Chilliwack Chiefs on Oct. 7. The time line for his return is unknown.