They have the leading pointgetter and No. 1 goalie and they are first overall in the B.C. Hockey League.
Things are looking sweet for the Vernon Vipers as they pass the quarter pole and prepare for a hectic 12-game Movember starting Wednesday night in Chilliwack versus the Chiefs. No word on whether the Vipers are growing mustaches for the month.
Anthony Yamnitsky, who won a league banner with the Wenatchee Wild last year, is 5-3 with a 1.64 goals against average and .942 save percentage to lead all net detectives.
Centre Brett Stapley, who Brett Stapley rang up his second straight two-goal outing as the Vipers grounded the West Kelowna Warriors 5-2 before 1,906 fans Saturday night at Kal Tire Place, shares the league points derby with Rss Armour of the Trail Smoke Eaters. Both players have a dozen goals and 25 points. Stapley took Player of the Week honours.
Vernon moved to 12-4-0-2 for sole possession of the Interior Conference penthouse, one point ahead of the Smoke Eaters. The Langley Rivermen also have 26 points but have two less wins than the Vipers, who received an honourable mention in the Canadian Junior A League top-20 Monday. Penticton is rated No. 19.
The Vipers face fellow Division heavyweights Penticton Vees and Wenatchee twice and the Warriors three times in November.
Yamnitsky was impressed with the way the Vipers do things after his first practice. He believed the Snakes can match Wenatchee’s success of last season.
“Our effort,” said the Ohio product, when asked what makes the Vipers a winner. “Night in, night out and everyday in practice, and when it comes to games, we’re putting in lots of effort on every shift. Communication is also a huge factor. Everybody knows somebody has their back so that is integrated in our system. We’re getting guys to block shots, we’re getting guys to pressure (the opponents) and guys are talking to one another.”
Jimmy Lambert (ninth), Jagger Williamson (eighth) and Connor Marritt (second) also supplied snipes for the Snakes, who held period leads of 1-0 and 3-2 Saturday.
Willie Reim counted his fourth and fifth goals of the year for the 11-6 Warriors, both on the powerplay, in the middle stanza. The Vipers converted twice with the man advantage in the same period.
Viper defencemen Michael Ufberg and Michael Young each pocketed a pair of assists in support of Ty Taylor (29 saves). Nik Amundrud kicked out 34 shots for West Kelowna. Taylor is fourth in goalie stats with a .2.13 GAA and 7-1-0 record.
Viper speedster Keyvan Mokhtari was chosen the Fortis Energy Player of the Game.
Stapley, Lambert and Sandhu collected 10 points in the weekend wins (Vernon iced Wenatchee 4-1 Friday).
“They just compete,” said Viper assistant coach Kevin Kraus, when asked why the unit is so productive. “I think it starts with our guys in practice. Between all four lines, it’s a highly competitive practice so when they get into a game, it comes natural to them. You’ve got three guys with speed that can move the puck and make some pretty nice plays so good for them to having some success.”
Sandhu has fit in nicely with Stapley and Lambert since winger Tanner Wishnowski went down with injury. Wishnowki did not play on the weekend.
Trail kept pace with Vernon by stopping the Vees 4-1 before 2,312 fans at Cominco Arena. Tyler Ghiradosi scored twice for the Smokies.
Lucas Sowder produced 2+2 as the Wild shelled the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 8-1 before 3,066 fans at the Town Toyota Center.
The host Cowichan Valley Capitals iced the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 5-1.
Vernon’s Cole Woodliffe pocketed 1+2 as the No. 17 Weyburn Red Wings iced the Flin Flon Bombers 4-2 in the Saskatchewan League.
The Thief River Norskies are the No. 1 ranked team in the national top-20 at 12-0 in the Superior International Junior League.