Cody DePourcq can’t get enough of the B.C. Hockey League, or the Vernon Vipers for that matter.
The 19-year-old scored once in his 200th game, all with Penticton, as the Vees held off the Vernon Vipers 4-3 in Interior Division play before 1,950 fans Friday night at Kal Tire Place.
The 5-foot-5, 160-pound dynamo has probably faced the Vipers close to 40 times since breaking in with the Vees as a 16-year-old buzzsaw.
“It’s special and unique to play that many games in this league,” smiled DePourcq. “It’s a tough league and I’ve been fortunate to not have many injuries throughout my career, and play with so many great players and teams over the last three years. I love playing against Vernon. We bring out the best in one another and the games are always a lot of fun.”
DePourcq, who is eligble for a fifth season next year, quickly listed his most memorable game but couldn’t remember who it was against.
“The Royal Bank Cup (final),” he beamed. “Just watching the seconds tick down on the clock was a great feeling. I’m not even sure who we played.”
The Vees clipped the Woodstock Slammers of Ontario 4-3 in the 2011 RBC championship in Humboldt, Sask. DePourcq’s father, John, won a national title with the Penticton Knights in 1986.
Vees’ head coach Fred Harbinson, noting that DePourcq was talking to a fan in the hallway rather than heading upstairs for a run, joked: “So, you play your 200th game, you don’t have to do the cool down?”
Harbinson has enjoyed the ride with the Penticton product.
“He’s fun to coach. He’s a great kid. The frustrations of coaching a lot of times is trying to motivate guys and trying to get guys going and you never have to motivate that kid. Every day he comes with a smile on his face to the rink and wants to work and his worth ethic is as high it goes. It’s been a pleasure coaching him.”
Patrick Newell, Mitch Newsome and Lewis Zerter-Gossage also supplied goals for the Vees, who have won all four meetings with Vernon this season.
There wasn’t as much flow as past Vees-Vipers tilts, but it was still superior hockey you never tire of watching.
“I think both teams get each other up. It’s pretty rare for either of our teams to take the other team lightly,” said Harbinson, whose Vees are ranked No. 6 in Canada. “We knew it was gonna be tough, especially after winning the first two in this building. It lived up to it. They scored first and we pushed back and it was tight at the end.”
Texan Thomas Aldworth pulled the hat trick for the Vipers, his last tally coming with goalie Jarrod Schamerhorn on the bench for a sixth attacker, with 30 seconds to play.
Aldworth netted his 15th snipe of the season 6:23 into the game, triggering an onset of more than 400 hundred stuffies on the annual charity Teddy Bear Toss Night. A lack of volunteers on hand to retrieve the toys caused a 10-minute delay. Aldworth was the beneficiary of a wild rebound after TJ Dumonceaux’s shot went high off goalie Hunter Miska to the left hash mark.
Newell equalized with 1:44 remaining in the first period when rookie d-man Mitchell Oliver stick handled through his own crease, forcing a shocked Schamerhorn to make a save. Newell buried the rebound on the goal-line for an early Christmas gift.
“It happens to the best of us,” said Vernon alternate captain Kenny Citron. “It doesn’t fall on one guy. It’s a team effort and that’s the thing about this team, we all have each other’s backs. If one guy’s not playing great, somebody else is picking up the slack for him. That’s how it works which is part about what makes it special.”
Newsome and DePourcq rang up goals in 85 seconds midway through the second period to put Penticton up 3-1. Newsome , from the back door, went blocker side after d-man Patrick Sexton made a smart play using his knee to keep the puck inside the zone before dishing a gorgeous pass.
DePourcq completed a bang-bang play with blueliner Dante Fabbro. Chicago Blackhawk draft Jack Ramsey earned the secondary assist.
Aldworth pulled the Snakes within a goal with a minute left in the same period, 58 seconds into a Connor Chartier minor.
The Vees restored a two-goal cushion at 8:30 of the third when Zerter-Gossage buried a high wrister from the ringette line. It was the first goal in nine games for the high-scoring Montreal product.
“We matched their tempo most of the game,” said Aldworth. “They took it to us and outworked us in the second period and in order to beat these guys, we have to outwork them for 60 minutes and we just haven’t been able to that.”
The Vees moved to 25-4-0-1 atop the Interior Division. Vernon is second, 16 points back at 16-8-1-2. Vernon faced the Smoke Eaters Saturday night in Trail.
Forward Nick Rasovic, released by the defending Fred Page Cup champion Coquitlam Express, made his Viper debut. He had one goal and seven points with Coquitlam.
“We could use a bigger body up front, kind of an energy spark kind of guy,” said Citron. “We’ve liked what we’ve seen so far in practice. on and off the ice. He’s a hard-working guy so far, so it’s definitely an advantage picking him up.”
The Vipers showed a video tribute to longtime head scout Larry Black before the game. Black lost a year-long battle with cancer last Sunday. He was 66.