Vernon, BC: Jagger Williamson made his return to the Vipers lineup with a 3 point night and Max Palaga was air tight stopping 26 shots for his first BCHL win and shutout as the Vipers snuffed out the Trail Smoke Eaters on Wednesday night at Kal Tire Place.
The Vipers played a pretty inspired opening period as they outshot the Smoke Eaters 13-4. Their forecheck was relentless as they continually got in on the Trail defenders making life extremely difficult. The Vipers nearly opened the scoring thanks to the forecheck as a Teddy Wooding slapshot missed the goal and Jesse Lansdell hammered the rebound off the post. Near misses had been commonplace for the Vipers over the last two games, but they refused to let up. Coleton Bilodeau set up Ben Helgeson for his first BCHL goal a little over 12 minutes into the period. Elan Bar-Lev-Wise drew the secondary assist. Just under 3 minutes later, Brendan Kim would set up Jagger Williamson streaking down the slot for his 1st of the year and it was 2-0 Vernon. The Vipers found themselves on a late powerplay and converted after a beautiful set up from Jagger Williamson as he laid a pass across for Jesse Lansdell on a 2 on 1 to give the Vipers a 3-0 lead after 1 period. That spelled the end of the night for Adam Marcoux, who was replaced by Tanner Marshall to start the second period.
In the second, the Vipers continued to press when it came to wave after wave of forecheck. The Smoke Eaters appeared to make an adjustment and were able to get pucks in behind the Vipers defense. However, the D was very sharp when in their own zone, not allowing many quality scoring chances and when Trail did get a chance, Max Palaga was up to the challenge turning aside all 11 shots he faced in the middle period. The Vipers benefited from a lucky break as a Trail defender fell down, Connor Marritt stole the puck and fed Jagger Williamson for his second of the game to give Vernon a 4-0 lead after 2.
Things got a bit chippy in the 3rd as Kjell Kjhemus scrapped with Mack Byers although it wasn’t listed as a fighting major for either player. The Viper PK was tested in the final period killing off all 4 Trail chances. Max Palaga again stood tall in the period stopping 11 shots including a pair of acrobatic stops to keep the shut out in tack as the Vipers would ease the game home for a 4-0 win.
The Vipers are next in action Saturday as the Alberni Valley Bulldogs come to town for their only visit. Puck drop for that game is 6pm.