Kelowna threesome clicking for Vipers
A trio of Kelowna products have been having a significant impact on the playoff fortunes of the BCHL's Vernon Vipers.
Brett Mulcahy, Brendan Persley and T.J. Dumonceaux have combined to score 24 of the Vipers' 43 postseason goals—or 56 per cent—and have been a force in Vernon's march into the BCHL's semi-final round.
"They're three pretty important parts to our team," Vipers' coach Jason Williamson said of the threesome, all products of Kelowna Minor Hockey. "Mulcahy and Persley are 20-year-olds, veteran guys who have played a lot of hockey. TJ has been here a couple of years and is just getting better and better. It's good to see all of them having success, and they've definitely been carrying a lot of the mail for us."
Mulcahy and Persley, who played minor hockey together, have teamed up with Colton Sparrow to form one of the most dangerous lines in the BCHL playoffs.
Mulcahy leads the league with 12 playoff goals, while Persley has added seven goals and 14 points. Sparrow, who played major midget with Mulcahy with the Okanagan Rockets, has 16 points, including 10 assists.
"Our line works well together," said Mulcahy, 21, who was traded to Vernon by Surrey earlier this season. "I know both of those guys well, I've played with them in the past, and maybe because of that we've developed some pretty good chemistry."
As the host team, the Vipers have an automatic berth into the RBC Cup next month.
It will be Mulcahy's second straight appearance in the Canadian national junior A championship, having been to the season finale last May with the Surrey Eagles.
Between playing at home in the Okanagan and getting another crack at a national title, Mulcahy can't conceive of a better way to close out his junior career.
"It's all pretty exciting," said Mulcahy, who will be attending College of Holy Cross near Boston next season. "It's close to home, great for my parents, and I already knew a lot of the guys on the team, so it was a nice transition.
"It's exciting to be be able to go to the RBC Cup again, not a lot of guys get that chance," he added.
"We (Surrey) fell short last year, so hopefully we can get it done this year in Vernon."
Persley has been well-travelled since his early days of minor hockey in Kelowna, making stops at Notre Dame, the Okanagan Hockey Academy and with the Western Hockey League's Chilliwack Bruins.
Persley, who has no specific plans for hockey following this season, is glad to be back in the Okanagan with a proven organization and the chance to go out a winner.
"There's no better place to be than in Vernon, my billet's place is 30 to 40 minutes from my home in Kelowna," said Persley, who added the Vipers have exceeded everyone's expectations but their own.
"Our team has come far this year, we've kind of been the underdogs, but used that as motivation, we've worked hard and haven't rolled over. Even though we're hosts, we want to earn our way to the RBC Cup."
Coach Jason Williamson said the three Kelowna players bring something a little different to the ice, but all are valuable commodities to the Vipers.
"Brett is a solid, hard-working two-way player," said of Mulcahy. "We'll be relying a lot on his experience going forward.
On Persley: "Brendan is scoring more than he did in the regular season, and we thought he would be at his best in the playoffs. He's one of the grittier players in the league and has been tremendous."
On Dumonceaux: "TJ is one of the faster kids out there, one of our top penalty killers," Williamson said of Dumonceaux, who has five goals and eight points in 13 playoff games. "With his speed and the way he's been playing, he's really pushed us to bump up his ice time."
The Vipers will be in Victoria Friday night to open the BCHL's three-team round-robin semifinal against the Grizzlies, before returning home Sunday to take on the Coquitlam Express. The top two teams will advance to the best-of-seven BCHL championship series.