Sports

Tambellini shows clutch touch as Vipers clip Eagles

Craig Martin (right) of the Vernon Vipers lunges for the puck controlled by Mason Blacklock of the Surrey Eagles in B.C. Hockey League action Saturday night at Wesbild Centre. - Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star
Craig Martin (right) of the Vernon Vipers lunges for the puck controlled by Mason Blacklock of the Surrey Eagles in B.C. Hockey League action Saturday night at Wesbild Centre.
— image credit: Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star

It’s long been the philosophy of hockey coaches everywhere: shoot the puck at the net, and good things will happen.

Adam Tambellini obliged.

Tambellini’s goal with five seconds left in double overtime gave the Vernon Vipers a 3-2 win over the visiting Surrey Eagles in B.C. Hockey League action Saturday night at the Wesbild Centre. The goal came after Tambellini went around a Surrey defenceman and got a shot on goalie Glenn Ferguson, who made the first save.

Tambellini, who turned 18 on Nov. 1, picked up the rebound and fired it on goal, the puck squeaking under Ferguson’s arm and into the net for the victory. The Edmonton product is eighth in league scoring with 12 goals and 12 assists in 20 games.

“It was huge for us to get the win tonight,” said Tambellini, the game’s first star. “On the winner, I drove to the net, got a shot away and the puck came back to me and I just shot it at the goal. Fortunately for us, it went in.”

The Eagles had a chance to complete a weekend Interior doubleheader sweep (Surrey won 3-2 Friday in Salmon Arm) when Mason Blacklock was hauled down from behind 1:08 into the three-on-three second overtime period by Vernon’s Pearce Eviston, and was awarded a penalty shot.

Blacklock, chosen third star on the night, shot wide on the game’s second star, Vipers’ goalie Danny Todosychuk, who finished the night with 46 saves as Surrey outshot Vernon 48-41.

Sporting commemorative double-blue Movember moustache-themed uniforms, which were auctioned off after the game, the Vipers opened the scoring at 9:08 when Tambellini found Eviston alone in the slot and his shot beat Ferguson.

The Eagles replied at 17:05 with Blacklock ripping a shot shorthanded over Todosychuk’s left shoulder.

Defenceman Marc Hetnik, with his first goal of the year, a seeing-eye shot through a maze of players in front of Ferguson, gave the Vipers a 2-1 lead 4:30 into the middle frame.

The Vipers ran into penalty trouble, conceding a two-man power play for 68 seconds late in the period.

After Todosychuk made a number of huge saves, and with the second penalty nearly over, Surrey equalized at 18:53 on a lucky powerplay bounce as Brett Mulcahy’s centering pass hit defenceman Michael Statchuk’s leg and just dribbled over the goal line.

The Vipers killed a tripping penalty to Hetnick with three minutes left in regulation, and both goalies made huge saves in the first overtime.

“Danny was great tonight. We have so much confidence in him,” said Tambellini.

For the Eagles, they will take three out of four weekend points, though head coach Matt Erhart thought they deserved a better fate Saturday.

“I thought we played well, no doubt about it, putting 48 shots on goal against a quality team in their own barn,” said Erhart, a former Eagle d-man.

“Both teams had lots of chances, it probably deserved to go to overtime and once you get to overtime, anything happens. We get a penalty shot, they get some great chances, our goalie made a couple of big saves in some scrambles. Obviously you like to win those games but really happy with the way we played tonight.”

The game opened with an honour guard from members of the Vernon branch of the Royal Canadian Legion to commemorate Remembrance Day.

Vernon hits the road this weekend for a trio of Coastal Conference tilts – Friday night against the Powell River Kings (9-12-0-3), Saturday at the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (10-9-0-3), and Sunday afternoon against the Coquitlam Express (11-9-1).

SNAKE BITES: Vince Hinostroza scored twice and added two assists as the U.S doubled Canada West 6-3 to claim gold at the World Junior A Challenge Sunday night in Yarmouth, N.S. Viper forward and Canada West captain Aaron Hadley assisted in his team’s third goal. Eagles’ d-man Devon Toews assisted on the first...BCHLers earning all-star recognition were netminder Jonah Imoo (Powell River Kings), forward Wade Murphy (Penticton Vees) and d-man Troy Stecher (Vees)...Since the tournament began in 2006, the U.S. and Canada West are the only teams to strike gold – the Americans winning four times, the West three... The Manitoba league’s Dauphin Kings will host the 2014 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup, April 26-May 4. They are the second city to host Westerns since the CJHL switched from the Doyle Cup regional format this season. The Nanaimo Clippers host the inaugural Western Canada Cup, April 27-May 5. The Cup champion and runner-up will represent Western Canada at the RBC Cup National Junior A Championship.

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