The Vernon Home Building Centre Vipers were in medal contention going into Saturday action in the Calgary Edge Midget Tier 1 Fall Hockey Classic.
The Vipers grounded the North East Alberta Panthers of Calgary 4-1 Friday night, improving to 2-0-1. Vernon met the host Edge Maroons Saturday morning in first-round playoff action.
Defenceman Ryan Beach rung one off the crossbar on a two-man advantage and Logan Geefs pounced on the rebound to make it 1-0 over the Panthers, who tied it on the powerplay with 13 minutes left in the first.
Vernon took the lead again with just over a minute to go in the first with a drive to the net by Trevor Pickett with Cody Hendrickson putting in the rebound.
Dennon Leibel scored on a bullet on a 2-on-1 at 17:53 of the second to make it 3-1. Conor Payne buried a blistering shot from the point early in the second to complete the offence. Wyatt Bonneau earned the assist.
Goalie Evan Campagnolo came up big on a breakaway with three and a half minutes left in the second. Campagnolo played his strongest game of the year before going down with a fractured wrist after a collision with a Panther with 4 minutes left.
Earlier Friday, the Vipers erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period to secure a 3-3 tie with the Calgary North East Blazers.
Beach opened the scoring with a powerplay goal two minutes in that beat the goalie five hole, assisted by Geefs and Austin Krahn.
The Blazers answered 18 seconds later and then went ahead at 14:15 during 4-on-4 play. Goalie Max Brown made a clutch save on a breakaway at the 7:30 mark.
The Blazers took a 3-1 lead on a powerplay goal while the Vipers were killing a major penalty to Curtis Sexsmith.
Pickett converted on an amazing solo effort to bring the Vipers to within one 45 seconds into the third. Hendrickson and Krahn drew assists.
Leibel tied it up with a bank shot off the back of the Blazers’ goalie with just under nine minutes left. Austin Garrington had the helper.
The Vipers opened up the Fall Classic with a 6-5 win Thursday afternoon over the St. Albert Blues after boarding the bus earlier in the day.
Justin Mitchell opened the scoring in the first with a top-shelf wrister. St. Albert went ahead 45 seconds into the second, the Home Builders equalized with five minutes left after Pickett drove deep into the zone and made a great pass to Geefs at the crease. Kyle Clark tucked away the rebound to tie it up.
The Vipers kept pressing and Hendrickson scored on a scramble with just two minutes left in the period. Pickett put one off the crossbar with just a couple of seconds left to end the second. The Blues tied it up with one minute gone in the final frame on a powerplay goal that eluded Campangolo.
A turnover in the Blues’ zone resulted in a goal by Richard Meaney, unassisted, with five minutes gone. The Vipers had a flurry of activity during a powerplay and Krahn took a blast from the point that was deflected in by Austin Garrington, putting the Vipers up 5-3.
The Blues made it a one-goal deficit on the powerplay with eight minutes to go and tied it up 45 seconds later on a 2-on-1.
Campangolo made a huge save with just over two minutes left and Pickett scored the winning goal after an amazing solo effort.
“I think we have played better every game and with adversity brings confidence,” said Vernon head coach Jim Armstrong. “I’m proud of the way we have played with injuries and suspensions and not letting that affect our play.”
Meanwhile, the Vernon Coca-Cola Vipers opened their Midget Tier 2 tournament Friday at Civic by falling 10-0 to the Langley Eagles.
The Cloverdale Colts were the early leaders in the eight-team event after bouncing Burnaby Burrs 7-2 Saturday morning. Cloverdale clipped the Salmon Arm Silvertips 3-2 Friday afternoon.
In other games Friday, the Burrs shaded the Winfield Bruins 3-2, the Williams Lake Timberwolves clipped Trail-Rossland Smoke Eaters 2-1 and Salmon Arm toppled Winfield 3-1.
In North Okanagan Pee Wee Super League play Friday night, Brendan Horsfield pulled the hat tick as the Butcher Boys Red Wings tied the Stevenson Mechanical Blues 4-4 at Priest Valley Arena.
Colton Greeno also scored for the Wings., while Braeden Cooper and Nick Mitchell each sniped twice for the Blues.