Send your head coach to Arizona. Hold the charity Teddy Bear Toss. Start your red-hot new American goalie.
All of the above paid off for the Vernon Vipers in a 6-1 dispatching of the West Kelowna Warriors before 2,048 B.C. Hockey League fans Friday night at Kal Tire Place.
Kevin Kraus stepped in as bench boss with Mark Ferner away scouting a big Midget tournament in Phoenix and the Vipers didn’t miss a beat while improving to 15-12-3. Kraus was assisted by Kevin Pedersen.
The Vipers (15-12-3) moved into sole possession of second place in the Interior Division, two points ahead of the Trail Smoke Eaters, 4-1 losers to the visiting Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
“Krauser could be coach of the year now,” laughed newbie net detective Darion Hanson of Minnesota. “He did great. We respect both of them very much. I thought we started out strong and I’m very proud of how we responded after we gave up an early one and our PK was especially huge in the second period.”
A big fan of Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, Hanson loves playing pick-up hoops in the summer. He used to play baseball and showed some sweet athleticism Friday. He’s high on his new club.
“I really am excited,” said the amiable Hanson. “Coming in with these guys, it’s been an awesome opportunity and it seems like a great group. They’ve been so nice to me so it’s been an easy transition. That says a lot about them. There are a lot of real good human beings in that locker room. We play hard and I think this is a team that people should watch for. I think we’re built for a playoff run. It’s been fun; these last three games I really couldn’t have wished for anything better.”
Niko Karamanis scored twice for the Vipers, while singles went to Jimmy Lambert, Austin Adamson, Brett Stapley and Ryan Brushett. Michael Ryan replied for the Warriors (12-15-1), who have given up 17 goals in their last two games. Karamanis made it rain stuffies for Santa’s Toy Club 97 seconds after Ryan’s snipe.
“It was kind of special to score that goal. Before the game, we were joking about it. It was a geat effort there by both my linemates (Brushett and Christian Cakebread). Ryan made the nice move to get around him and I just took a one-timer. We knew we could beat this goalie (Nik Amundrud) up high being a smaller goalie so it was a good shot and definitely one I’ll remember.”
Karamanis, an 18-year-old centre out of Courtenay, supplied the winner early in the second period. D-man Sol Seibel drove the length of the ice, cruised behind the net and fed Karamanis for an easy tap in.
“It was definitely a freebie,” said Karamanis, who has 11 goals. “I told him he could have the goal and assist on that one. Great rush by him and go to the net with your stick on the ice and get a tap in.”
The Warriors, who have seven returnees from last year’s Royal Bank championship roster, went ahead on Ryan’s fourth 4:22 after the national anthem. They had a goal by Connor Sodergren waved off for a throwing motion and trailed 2-1 after the first period.
“I thought for two periods it was pretty good,” said West Kelowna head coach Ryan Ferster, a former Vernon Laker. “It’s unfortunate that a goal like that has to get called back. I don’t understand how a back linesman can see that going through people. We watched it on tape and it was a call that happened and we could have gone in 2-2. I’m certainly not saying that’s why we lost the game, but we have a young team and it kind of got away from us in the third and full marks to them; they’ve got a veteran team, they’re four lines deep and they played well.”
Carter Cochrane supplied the winner as the Salmon Arm Silverbacks clipped the first-place Penticton Vees 4-3 in double overtime in front of 2,651 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Silverbacks share fifth spot with West Kelowna, three digits back of the idle Merritt Centennials.
Vernon visits Penticton Wednesday night.
Adamson took on the much bigger Tyler Jutting in the game’s only scrap, with 4:55 remaining. Neither player landed any major blows.
Meanwhile, Penticton goaltender Mat Robson has committed to the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for the 2017-18 season.
The Toronto native has had stellar season for the Vees thus far, as he leads the BCHL in wins (18), goals-against average (1.90) and save percentage (.927); he’s tied for second in shutouts (2). Robson says Minnesota is the perfect fit.