Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Vipers Close A Warm January:
Vipers close a warm January
by Kevin Mitchell - Vernon Morning Star
Feb 1, 2017
It was a drama-jammed way to finish a pretty impressive January for the Vernon Vipers.
Ryan Brushett converted a wraparound with 2:31 left in double overtime as the Vipers edged the Prince George Spruce Kings 5-4 before 1,609 B.C. Hockey League fans Sunday at Kal Tire Place.
The Vipers won six times, tied twice and only lost twice in regulation in an 11-game first month of 2017. They are six points behind the Interior-Division leading Penticton Vees going into a Wednesday night home date with the West Kelowna Warriors. Penticton has three games in hand. Vernon played in four double-OT tilts in the month.
Austin Adamson drew the assist on Brushett's seventh snipe of the season. Brushett, a Quebec product, skated hard down the right sidewall and behind the Prince George net before beating goalie Tavin Grant at the right post.
"I just beat the coverage and I got the chance to go wraparound," said Brushett, during a post game skate with fans. "Our team likes to get it down low and work there and once we did that, I think they couldn't handle it and they started to get tired and it started to create more things for us."
The Spruce Kings appeared set to celebrate a sleepy matinee victory until the Vipers pocketed three goals in four minutes late in the third period to force OT.
Jimmy Lambert jumpstarted the comeback with 6:24 left to play, connecting for his 16th on a frenzied fray in front of Grant. Linemates Steven Jandric and Brett Stapley earned the assists.
D-man Cameron Trott, who was named the Vipers' Fortis Energy Player of the Game, counted his sixth 80 seconds later, going back door from the left side on a powerplay. Jandric and Lambert drew the helpers on Trott's sixth.
Jandric equalized 99 seconds later, finishing from in close after some sweet feeds by Trott and Lambert, on another powerplay. Jandric leads the Snakes with 22 goals. The Prince George product enjoyed two fabulous chances in the three-on-three overtime.
"We got a good start to the third, got one, and went from there," said Trott, obtained in a trade with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Nov. 24. "We were getting chances early in the game and nothing was going for us. We just stuck to it and it ended up working out. We work hard and have a strong commitment so we are able to finish games strong."
Drew Lennon, with his 15th, gave Prince George a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, burying a rebound past NHL prospect Ty Taylor, at 10:20, on the powerplay. D-man Tyler Anderson garnered his first of three assists on the afternoon.
Captain Brett Mennear, who flashed some magical moves all game, made it 2-0 at 14:35 of the second period on his 23rd of the year. The Spruce Kings, a heavy team with a solid structure, stopped the Merritt Centennials 3-1 Friday and lost 3-1 to the Silverbacks Saturday. They are fourth in the Lower Mainland Division, where they face the powerful Wenatchee Wild and Chilliwack Chiefs a ton.
"I thought we played a really good game all through; it was just the last seven where we kind of fell apart and lost focus," said Mennear, the Spruce Kings' leading pointgetter with 65. "It was more mental fatigue. We gotta get over a hump. We're got to learn how to close games on the road. We did it in Merritt and we couldn't pull it through in Salmon Arm, and the same here tonight."
Mennear, a Bentley Falcons commit from West Kelowna, says the stiff divisional competition will prime the Spruce Kings for the playoffs and give them a legitimate chance to "slay the beast first" come the opening round, likely versus Wenatchee.
"We're a 200-foot team. We don't take chances and commit to the dee zone. They're (Vipers) a good team. They win games for a reason and they didn't give up tonight. We didn't give them much until the last seven (minutes). I think we gave them that game; it's tough."
Brushett replied for Vernon 65 seconds into the third frame on rebound, assists going to Simon Sagissor and Adamson.
Tanner Campbell, with his seventh, and Keegan Ward, with his first in the BCHL, on a soft backhander, put the hard-hitting Spruce Kings up 4-1.
Vernon outshot Prince George 43-31 as they swept a three-game weekend homestand. Taylor went to 12-9, while Grant dipped to 13-18.
SNAKE BITES: Viper d-man Shane Kelly served his one-game suspension for taking off his helmet to fight Sean Buchanan of the Nanaimo Clippers Saturday night...Vernon has nine regular-season games remaining, two at Kal Tire Place. The surging Trail Smoke Eaters are here Saturday night. The Smokies are third, 10 points back of the Vipers. Trail stopped the Vees 6-3 Saturday night at Cominco Arena...Former Viper Dylan Walchuk scored once as the Calgary Dinos shaded the Manitoba Bisons 7-6 in CIS play Saturday night. Viper grad Cole Sanford had one assist in the Alberta Golden Bears' 5-3 win over the Mt. Royal Cougars of Calgary.