The Vernon Vipers bounced the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-2 in B.C. Hockey League action before 2,009 fans Saturday night at Kal Tire Place.
The Vipers counted three goals in a span of 3:46 early in the second period to take a 4-2 lead. It was 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Vernon remains tied atop the BCHL with the Penticton Vees, who got a goal from Taylor Ward at 1:39 of second overtime to shade the Cowichan Valley Capitals in Duncan.
Cole Poliziani registered his ninth of the season 10:09 after the national anthem, on a power play. The Vipers actually carried most of the play shorthanded before Poliziani converted from roadrunner Julian Benner with 11 seconds left in ex-Bulldog Jordan Sandhu’s hooking minor. Alberni Valley held a 19-10 shot advantage in the opening period.
Vernon equalied four minutes later when rookie Connor Marritt beat Bulldog backup net detective Brock Lefebvre from the right hashmarks. Niko Karamanis and Coleton Bilodeau drew helpers on Marritt’s sixth.
Benner pushed the Dawgs in front on a nifty wraparound just 81 seconds into the middle stanza. It was Benner’s second snipe of the season in his 11th game. Former Viper d-man Mitch Oliver and Jackson Doucet pocketed assists.
Vernon jumpstarted their three-goal volcano with blueliner Mitch Andres wiring a slapper top cheddar from the point about 45 seconds after he struck the post. Brett Stapley, who played in the CJHL Prospects Game earlier in the week in Mississauga, Ont., earned the assist as the Vipers applied extended pressure.
Jimmy Lambert recorded the winner with his 17th, burying a wrister top shelf from the high slot. D-man Chris Jandric carried the puck down the right sidewall, skated around the Alberni Valley net, took a heavy hit from Oliver and dished off to Lambert. The Saskatoon streak curled like a comma and straddled the blueline before unleashing the shot.
Newbie Derek Brown, acquired at the trading deadline from the Alberta League Bonnyville Pontiacs, added insurance from ‘gimme range’ after a nifty behind-the-back pass by Sandhu, whose forward progress was halted by Oliver. Brown’s shot trickled through Lefebvre’s pads for his fifth as a Viper. Brown bagged a hat trick as Vernon grounded the West Kelowna Warriors 24 hours earlier.
The Bulldogs pulled Lefebvre in favour of John Hawthorne after Brown’s tally.
The Vipers had one goal disallowed in the second period. Josh Latta snuck in all alone behind Lefebvre and tapped the puck in after a feed by Cameron Trott. After some brief discussion by the four officials, goaltender interference was the ruling in favour of the Dawgs.
Vernon (31-12-1-4) spent most of the third period in the Alberni Valley zone, but the Dawgs showed some late pushback with Keaton Mastrodonato striking the post just before getting stoned by Vernon goalie Ty Taylor on a rebound of a Oliver point offering. Hawthorne delivered a handful of stellar saves.
Winger Tyler Vanuden, who has 16 penalty minutes this season, was assessed a boarding major with 2:40 to play after he smacked Viper captain Jagger Williamson near the Viper bench. Williamson got up in a hurry, but needed apply a towel to his bleeding head. A scrum ensued and Jesse Lansdell of the Vipers and Christian Simeone were given double roughing minors.
Vernon meets the Trail Smoke Eaters, while the Bulldogs tangle with West Kelowna in Sunday matinees. The Dawgs are fourth in the Island Division at 14-25-4-4. Taylor, who is the league’s top goalie, rang up his 20th win.
Three stars: 1. Lambert. 2. Benner. 3. Jandric. Fortis Energy Player of the Game for Vernon: Andres.