This is in todays Morning Star Newspaper:
Vipers start northern swing on nine-game high
By Nicole Berg - Vernon Morning Star
Published: December 11, 2008 6:00 PM
The Vernon Vipers are heading north riding a nine-game winning streak and feeling pretty good about themselves in the B.C. Hockey League.
The Vipers (24-7-1-2) shut out the Trail Smoke Eaters 2-0 Tuesday night at Wesbild Centre, moving within a point of the Interior Conference leading Salmon Arm SilverBacks. Vernon visits the Prince George Spruce Kings tonight and then take on the Quesnel Millionaires Saturday night at the Vault.
The Vipers begin a festive season four-pack with the SilverBacks starting next Friday night in Vernon. The same two teams play Saturday night at the Sunwave Centre before taking the Christmas break, and renewing their rivalry Monday, Dec. 29 in Salmon Arm and the next night at Wesbild Centre.
Vernon beat the Smokies for the first time in three meetings, before an announced crowd of 1,936.
“All around, I think we played a pretty good game,” said Vipers assistant coach Jason Williamson. “We did things well offensively and stayed disciplined by not spending much time (three minors) in the penalty box. We played a simple game and the defence didn’t give the Trail forwards any room to move up front.”
Andrew Hammond stopped 19 Trail shots for his fifth career shutout.
Both teams looked evenly matched in the early going, but Vernon soon took control, finishing their checks in fashion.
Defenceman Kyle Bigos made two clean hits early on; one by crunching a Smokie into the boards, and the other in an open-ice hit.
Right winger James Kerr also delivered a few solid checks.
“Vernon’s a very good team who never gives up in the offensive zone and battles equally as hard in finishing their checks,” said Trail head coach Jim Ingram. “They set out to have a stylish forecheck early on and it paid off. We came out flat in the beginning with no emotion and basically stayed that way for the entire game.
“To even consider that we were given the chance to pull our goalie (Paul Barclay, 26 saves) and hope to score in the last couple minutes was an accomplishment.”
The Vipers’ last loss was to Trail 10 games ago, when they fell 3-2.
Mike Collins opened the scoring midway through the first period. His 12th goal of the season came on a goal-mouth scramble on a delayed penalty call.
Robbie Short padded the Snakes’ lead with 8:01 left in the second. Ryan Santana found Short standing alone in front of Barclay, and fed a long, crisp pass that Short tipped past the keeper.
In his last five games, Short has pocketed five goals and one assist.
“It feels pretty good to be getting the points lately,” said the Vernon native. “I think since the last time we’ve played Trail, we’ve really molded more as a team. We have lots of guys who are from different places and played for different teams in the past, but we have now come together to work more as a team since we last played Trail. Every game we try to play a better game and not buy into the other team’s systems and hopefully beat them.”
The Vipers almost scored a third goal in the game’s dying seconds. With Trail pulling their goalie for an extra attacker, Chris Crowell jumped on the loose puck in his team’s zone and shot it from centre ice, hoping to score his eighth of the season. However, Smokies forward Paul Mailey came rushing back into the play and saved the day, sliding across the ice and flying head-first into his team’s net.
SNAKE BITES: Cody Ikkala got in a scrap with the Smokies’ Sean Nugent in the second period and won a split decision..
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