Viper forward Darren Nowick (left) buries the rebound off a point shot in Royal Bank Cup preliminary play Wednesday afternoon at the Edgeworth Centre in Camrose.

Viper forward Darren Nowick (left) buries the rebound off a point shot in Royal Bank Cup preliminary play Wednesday afternoon at the Edgeworth Centre in Camrose.

Vipers take preliminary pole position

Patrick McGillis records pair, including shorthanded winner, as the Vernon Vipers improve to 3-0 and secure first place in Royal Bank Cup round-robin.

CAMROSE – A five-game layoff didn’t seem to hamper Pat McGillis too much Wednesday afternoon in Camrose.

The second-year forward pocketed a pair of goals, including the shorthanded winner in the second period, as the Vernon Vipers brushed back the Wellington Dukes of Ontario 5-2 in Royal Bank Cup preliminary play at Edgeworth Centre in Camrose.

The win improves the two-time defending RBC champs to 3-0 in the five-team round-robin tourney.Combined with a 2-1 win by tournament host Camrose Kodiaks over the Pembroke Lumber Kings in the Wednesday-night game, the Vipers have secured first place in the round-robin and have the option to choose their semifinal draw (either 1 p.m. or 5 pm PT). Vernon battles the Lumber Kings in their final preliminary game Thursday night (6:30 p.m. PT).

 

 

For the second game in a row, the Vipers opened with a pair of quick first-period goals.

McGillis, a Calgary product who missed the final three games of the Doyle Cup series against the Spruce Grove Saints, pocketed the first goal with a quick snap shot just inside the post on Jordan Ruby at 5:04. Vernon defenceman Brett Corkey, who supplied three helpers, sprung McGillis into the attacking zone with a nice heads-up pass.

Dave Robinson made it 2-0 less than two minutes later when he buried the rebound off a point shot on the powerplay.

The Dukes (0-3) got on the board midway through the first period when forward Darcy Murphy took advantage of a defensive brain cramp in Vernon’ zone. The Marysville, Ont. forward circled unchecked from behind the net, and turned and fired a shot past netminder Kirby Halcrow.

Vernon peppered Ruby with 23 shots in the first period – the shots were 46-26 overall – aided by a string of powerplays. The referees handed out 15 minors throughout the game, eight to Vernon and seven to Wellington. Viper forward Mike Zalewski was dinged with four stick infractions (hooking, holding the stick, slashing and tripping).

Down by two heading into the third period, the Dukes’ Joe Zarbo pulled his team within a goal on the powerplay, using Corkey as a screen to beat Halcrow (24 saves) gloveside.

The Vipers’ Darren Nowick put the game away with a pair of goals later in the third period.

Check out Friday sports in the Morning Star for a complete recap of the game.