Morning Star Staff
It was the Vernon Vipers’ third one-goal game in a four-game tour of the B.C. Hockey League’s Lower Mainland teams.
Netminder Blake Voth ensured it was a win with his best effort of the season, a 30-save, first-star performance as the Snakes stuffed the Surrey Eagles 2-1 before 900 fans Sunday afternoon at South Surrey Arena.
Trevor Fitzgerald, with his sixth goal of the season, recorded the winner at 12:06 of the third period.
“Dylan (Walchuk) just shot it and I got a stick on it. We really needed that win, so it was nice to get the winner,” said Fitzgerald, a 17-year-old Vernon product who relished playing on Surrey’s Olympic-sized ice sheet.
“It kind of worked to our advantage because we have a pretty fast team.”
Fitzgerald also displayed his physical side, getting into a first-period scrap with Dale Hunt.
“It was short – it wasn’t one of my better ones,” said Fitzgerald. “I don’t mind dropping the gloves once in a while. I’m not that guy who’ll drop the gloves every game, but I like to play with that intensity.”
The Vipers will end their November schedule Friday night against the Interior-leading Trail Smoke Eaters (19-9-0-1) Friday at Wesbild Centre.
Vernon, fourth in the Interior at 14-8-1-6, managed five of eight points from their coastal swing, and while those results might not seem overly flattering, Vipers’ head coach Mark Ferner noted three of those games were against top-three Coastal Confernece teams, including the Powell River Kings, rated No. 2 in this week’s Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings.
“We’re starting to figure it out as far as how we need to be. We didn’t get the result, but the effort was there,” said Ferner, noting the Eagles, now fourth on the coast at 15-10-1-1, had Saturday night off.
“That was our third game in four-and-a-half days and our guys put in a solid effort to get that win.”
Bryce Kakoske (10th goal) had Vernon’s other goal midway through the first period, assisted by Dave Robinson.
Daniel Gentzier (7th) responded for Surrey on a late third-period powerplay.
Saturday night, the Vipers recorded a pair of third-period goals to salvage a point in a 5-4 double-overtime loss to the Langley Chiefs at the Events Centre.
Vernon outshot Langley 47-28 and outworked the Chiefs most of the game.
“We probably deserved a better fate, again,” said Ferner. “I thought we were the better team.”
With Vernon trailing 4-2 midway through the third period, defenceman Malcolm Lyles (4th) wristed a shot through traffic on the powerplay to pull his team within a goal.
Ferner’s decision to pull Bryton Udy (23 saves) on an offensive faceoff with two minutes to play proved to be a good one. With the extra attacker, Mike Zalewski converted a nice seam pass from Adam Thompson to force OT.
“We hadn’t been great on faceoffs, but if we can get an extra body out there maybe we can go and hunt it down if we do lose it,” said Ferner.
Kyle Murphy (6th), assisted by Max Mowat and Aaron Hadley, and Robinson (13th), assisted by Kakoske and Mowat, completed Vernon’s offence.
First star Josh Myers and Matt Ius each had a goal and assist for the Chiefs (17-8-1-4), who got the OT winner from Trevor Gerling.
Langley keeper Wyatt Galley recorded 43 stops for third star and the win.
SNAKE BITES: The Vipers have transferred the playing rights of former Kelowna Rocket Kyle St. Denis, a 20-year-old forward, to the Victoria Grizzlies in exchange for future considerations… WHL Tri-City Americans’ forward Zach McPhee, a 17-year-old Vernon product, has been assigned to the Vipers. McPhee, who had one goal in eight games with the Americans, was a sixth-round pick in the 2008 bantam draft.