Jagger Williamson of the Vernon Vipers fires a shot at Tanner Marshall of the Trail Smoke Eaters in BCHL action Saturday night at Kal Tire Place. Williamson was honoured before the game for having played in 200 league games during his career. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Vipers to tangle with Silverbacks

BCHL playoffs start Friday

  • Feb. 27, 2018 12:00 a.m.

The Vernon Vipers will face the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the first round of the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.

The best-of-seven series starts Friday at Kal Tire Place with Game 2 Saturday night, also in Vernon. The series moves to the Shaw Centre Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

The Vipers officially finished second in the Interior Division Saturday, following an 8-3 dismantling of the fourth-place Trail Smoke Eaters in both teams’ final regular season games. Vernon went 7-1 in February and posted 39 wins and 83 points for second overall in the BCHL, three points back of the Penticton Vees.

The Vees clinched first spot with a 5-1 win at home over the Wenatchee Wild, who finished third in

the division.

Salmon Arm wrapped up the regular season Sunday in Penticton, its fifth game in four-and-a-half days. The Silverbacks were relegated to seventh place Friday when the Merritt Centennials picked up a point in an overtime loss at home to West Kelowna.

Vernon led 2-0 and 5-2 by periods Saturday, going 3-for-6 with the man advantage.

Brett Stapley scored three times, giving him a team-high 27 goals. He finished 27-32-59, two points behind team scoring leader Jimmy Lambert, who had 1+3 against Trail (finished with 23 goals).

Jesse Lansdell, Niko Karamanis, Mitch Andres and Keyvan Mokhtari had the other goals for the Vipers, who received a 19-save performance from Anthony Yamnitsky. Tanner Marshall delivered 38 saves for the

Smokies.

Children and students tickets in round one will be free through sponsorship of Hytec, Beach Radio and The Vernon Morning Star.

There is no purchase necessary, however, each child or student will require a game ticket to be admitted.

Hytec a Kohler Company is excited to offer this opportunity to local youth and families in the North Okanagan.

Said Hytec GM Michael Sanfilippo: “Hytec and Kohler are thrilled to continue on our partnership with the Vernon Vipers in finding ways to give back to the community. We saw this as an excellent opportunity to partner with Beach Radio and the Vernon Morning Star to continue to make an impact and get the kids out to see some great playoff hockey. Go Vipers.”

Viper captain Jagger Williamson was honoured in a pre-game ceremony for playing in his 200th BCHL game last Sunday in Port Alberni.

“It means a lot,” said Williamson, a 19-year-old Michigan Tech Huskies commit. “Obviously, it’s a big milestone. I think someone said I am of only six players in the organization to have done it. It’s been pretty cool to experience it with these guys; it’s been a lot

of fun.”

Viper head coach Mark Ferner, who recruited some clutch players to bolster a strong returning core, said he is very proud of how the team overcame the death of beloved owner Duncan Wray and left very few points on the table.

“I certainly give our kids the praise and it starts with our leadership group. They handled it quite well and we finished the season the right way.”

The Vees will take on the Coquitlam Express in the first round of the playoffs. The Express finished fifth in the Mainland Division and, with 16 of 17 teams making the post-season, cross over to the Interior to become the division’s eighth seed.

Wenatchee will take on Merritt and the Smoke Eaters face the West Kelowna Warriors in the other Interior Division matchups.

The Victoria Grizzlies won the Island Division and will take on the Bulldogs in the opening round. The Mainland pennant-winning Prince George Spruce Kings will host the Royal Bank Cup-hosting Chilliwack Chiefs. SNAKE BITES: Viper G Ty Taylor led the league at 22-5-3 with a 1.83 GAA and .932 save percentage. The Richmond product just committed to the Hockey East University of New Hampshire Wildcats for next season. He tied a BCHL record with seven shutouts…Viper D Jack Judson turned 18 Monday…Williamson rang up 18 goals and 53 points, his best of four seasons in Vernon. “I guess you could say the real fun (playoffs) begins now,”

said Williamson.

Vernon Morning Star

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