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Vipers torch Smoke Eaters
Black Press Sports
It may never happen again, but it’s a moment Jason Williamson and the Vernon Vipers will certainly cherish...for 24 hours or so.
The Vipers rung up three goals in the opening minute in a 7-3 stuffing of the Trail Smoke Eaters before 780 B.C. Hockey League fans Wednesday night at Cominco Arena.
No word on whether it was a record, but the Vipers counted three snipes in 36 seconds to chase rookie Kai MacDonald, 17, a Coquitlam product making his BCHL debut after being summoned from the Junior B Grand Forks Border Bruins.
“I have never seen a start like that,” said Vernon head coach Jason Williamson. “We just bombarded that young goalie. The first goal was off a rebound and we had four guys standing in front of him. Every line we put out, scored. All three lines scored and our fourth line had a shot on goal, all in the first minute. We came at them in waves.”
Defenceman Jared Wilson opened the goal spree 20 seconds in, with TJ Dumonceaux and Brett Mulcahy drawing assists. Wilson netted his eighth of the season eight minutes into the second period, making it 4-1 Snakes.
Vernon moved to 26-16-4-6, good for third spot in the Interior Conference. They are five points up on the Merritt Centennials and six in front of the Salmon Arm SilverBacks in the playoff chase.
“With the Interior division being so tight we have to take care of our business, and it was a good rebound game I thought,” said Williamson. “Obviously we started real well, and just kind of rode it from there, but all in all I was pretty happy with our game.”
Dexter Dancs, with his 23rd and 24th goals of the year, Colton Sparrow, with his 10th, captain Ryan Renz, with his fourth, and Dallas Calvin, with his third, bar-down, completed the Vipers’ attack in front of Austin Smith.
Calvin, a 6-foot-4, 205-pounder out of Trail, left the Vipers for personal reasons after getting 2-6-8 in 10 games. He leads the KIJHL Beaver Valley Nite Hawks with 39 goals and 77 points.
“The guys know it wasn’t a case of him quitting; there were other circumstances,” said Williamson. “They made Dallas feel welcome. They know he’s as good an AP as there is out there. He was pretty dominant. He should have had three points because he assisted Spares’ (Sparrow) goal.”
Calvin played the right wing with a variety of centres after 44-pointman Demico Hannoun left the game early with back spasms. Hannoun should be ready tonight when the Vipers visit the first-place Penticton Vees.
Sparrow moved to Hannoun’s spot with Dancs and Michael McNicholas, while Dumonceaux, Mulcahy and Liam Coughlin took turns double shifting up the middle.
Colby Livingstone, a 20-goal man with the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, scored his third goal of the year for the Smokies, who also got goals from Bryan Basilico (13th) and Joel Webb (4th).
Former North Okanagan Knights’ all-star Dustin Nikkel replaced McDonald 58 seconds in and was stellar, finishing with 40 saves. Smith made 23 stops and is now 15-12-3.
Assistant coach Craig Clair was unimpressed with the effort shown by the nine-win Smokies, who also dressed 6-foot-5 d-man Archie McKinnon of the Nite Hawks.
“We have a few APs but that’s not an excuse, it’s the guys in our room that need to motivate themselves to show up to the rink,” said Clair. “You find out in this league in a hurry, that one minute can put you behind, and will finish the game if you’re not willing to show up and pay the price, and we got that lesson tonight.”
The Vees are one point ahead of the West Kelowna Warriors, who visit the Vipers Saturday.
Said Penticton winger Steen Cooper, on the Vipers: “They should be coming out with some fire. They are a team that is really skilled up front. Pretty big on the back end. I don’t think we should expect the same outcome (6-1 Vees’ win Jan. 24 at Kal Tire Place).”
SNAKE BITES: Sparrow, Dumonceaux and Brendan Persley each pocketed two assists...F Logan Mick was in sick bay...Williamson expects F Mason Blacklock back next week. “He’s an elite player in this league and anytime you can add one of those to your lineup. it’s huge, so hopefully we get him back a few games before playoffs so he’s geared up and ready to go.”...West Kelowna grounded the Cents 7-2 Tuesday night. The Warriors are led by Texas forwards Jason Cotton (22G, 54 points) and Carl Hesler (17G, 50 points), Seb Lloyd of Prince George (16 G, 50 points) and Detroit Red Wing draft David Pope, of Edmonton (19G, 36 points).