It was a highly anticipated night as the city of Vernon celebrated the Civic Arena in a swansong for the landmark. The Vipers and Spruce Kings squared off in front of 2200 fans and the only thing to damper the evening was the result as Prince George topped Vernon 3-2.
The Vipers clearly fed off the emotion in the building in the first period and that was built upon a sold out warmup. Rarely do players get a chance to warm up in front of 2200 fans, but was the case as both teams took the ice. The Vipers peppered the Spruce King goal, as the team from northern BC, had to weather a storm. Evan DeBrouwer was on point early on as pucks came from everywhere. The Spruce Kings scored early off a shorthanded rush as Ethan deJong ripped home a rebound to silence the boisterous crowd. The Vipers responded a few minutes later has Vernon product Jagger Williamson tapped home a rebound to even the score. The Vipers added one late as Niko Karamnis tipped home a centering feed from Keyvan Mokhtari to give the Vipers a 2-1 lead heading to the dressing room after 1.
In the second, the Spruce Kings looked reinvigorated and clogged up the zone to slow up the Viper offense. That strategy worked as the Vipers had trouble getting pucks into the zone and their shot total dwindled. Prince George drew even after a point shot was tipped in front by Ben Brar and the puck slipped through the legs of Ty Taylor. In the final minutes of the period, Jarod Hovde would snap one off the shoulder of Taylor and it trickled across the line. The goal was initially waved off by the referee nearest to the goal, but the rest of the officiating team deemed it to have gone in, so the goal stood and the Sprucies took a 3-2 lead into the room after 2.
The Vipers got back to basics and back to their gameplan in the third period, but again when tested, Evan DeBrouwer was up to the challenge. Most notably a handful of saves with the Viper goalie pulled as the Snakes pushed to equalize. Despite their efforts, the Vipers would fall a goal short as they drop a 3-2 decision to the Spruce Kings.
As disappointing as the result was for the home side, the entire community can be proud of the event that was held. No question, the night will hold a special place in many peoples hearts and was a night the whole city, teams and volunteers can be proud of.
The Vipers hit the road next Friday for a date with the Merritt Centennials