The parking lot at Kal Tire Place could not have looked nicer early Sunday morning for the Vernon Vipers.
As the bus came to a stop, the players, coaches, trainers and play-by-play personnel disembarked after a gruelling 11-game B.C. Hockey League road swing that saw Vernon travel over four weeks to Powell River, Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Victoria, Duncan, Surrey, Trail, Prince George, Langley and Coquitlam.
Vernon finished the marathon travel session Saturday with a tough 2-1 loss to the league-leading Express (21-5-0-0) Saturday night, Nov. 16, before a measly 531 fans in Coquitlam.
The Express scored two first-period powerplay goals on goalie James Porter, still looking for his first Vipers win (0-2). Porter finished with 21 saves.
Dawson Holt spoiled Clay Stevenson’s shutout bid with just four seconds left in the game. Stevenson made 29 stops to earn first-star status.
Vernon went 5-4-1-1 on the 11-game swing and sit in fourth place in the Interior Division at 13-10-1-1 for 28 points, three up on the Wenatchee Wild and nine back of the third-place Trail Smoke Eaters.
The Vipers play seven of their next 10 games at Kal Tire Place starting Friday, Nov. 22, against the second-place Salmon Arm Silverbacks (7 p.m.) on First Responders Night. Vernon hosts the Langley Rivermen Saturday, Nov. 23 (6 p.m.). The Rivermen beat Vernon 3-2 in a shootout Friday night, Nov. 15, in Langley.
SNAKE BITES: The Vipers acquired the Junior A playing rights to 19-year-old defenceman Hunter Donohoe from the Chilliwack Chiefs in exchange for future considerations. The South Surrey product has spent the last two seasons with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL and spent parts of this season with the Seattle Thunderbirds. “Hunter is a veteran defenceman who adds size and stability to our blue line,” said Vernon head coach and GM Jason McKee on vernonvipers.com. “He’ll add leadership and depth to the defence core which is already a big strength of our hockey club.” Donohoe made his debut in Langley and Coquitlam.