The Vernon Vipers posted a convincing 7-2 BCHL win over the Trail Smoke Eaters Saturday night.
Playing in new positions, Colton Sparrow and Jedd Soleway each had two goals and an assist for the Vipers, who had not been scoring early in the season.
Sparrow, who had been playing left wing with Adam Tambellini and Aaron Hadley, moved to centre between Brendan Persley and Landon Robin.
Brendan Persley, whose playing rights had earlier been traded to the Virden Oil Kings for Mitch VanTeeling, had a goal and two helpers in a rambunctious return to Vernon.
He was a late cut at the Tri-City Americans camp and was delighted to get another chance to play for the Vipers.
“It’s just a good place to play with great fans.”
The Smoke Eaters had fashioned an emotional win over West Kelowna the previous evening but were unable to match the Vipers’ pace early in Saturday’s contest.
After a flurry of scoring chances were stopped by Trail netminder Lyndon Stanwood, the Vipers got a fortunate bounce to open the scoring.
At 1:14, Adam Tambellini’s shot glanced off Aaron Hadley. The Smokies rebounded to create some chances of their own, but faded in the last eight minutes of the period as the Vipers’ speed created turnovers and scoring chances.
Stanwood was heroic at times in the second period, stopping 16 of 19 shots, but he was unable to cope with two ferocious wrist shots from Jedd Soleway, at 5:01 and 17:08.
In between, Colton Sparrow capitalized on a tenacious forecheck by Persley and Landon Robin at 6:47.
Tyler Berkholtz twice gave hope to the Smoke Eaters when he scored at 15:24 of the second period and 1:12 of the third to bring the score to 3-1 and 4-2.
But then the Viper's special teams took over as Sparrow and Persley notched power play goals in the third period and Adam Tambellini ripped a short handed effort past Stanwood after Craig Martin had forced a Trail turnover.
For the fourth straight game, Vernon held its opposition to under 25 shots (22) while peppering Stanwood with 41.
The game was a physical affair, as the Smoke Eaters registered 38 hits and the Vipers dished out a season-high 46.
Head Coach Jason Williamson praised his team’s effort.
"They played as well as we have so far in this young season. From top to bottom, the effort was there. We’ve had some other games where we laid it on the line but didn’t get rewarded with goals. Tonight, we capitalized on some of our chances. Now the guys don’t have to grip their sticks so hard.”
--with files from Don Klepp