The Vipers scored early and often in a 9-2 rout of the Smokies Saturday at Cominco Arena.
Vernon captain Brett Corkey opened proceedings at the 16-second mark, wristing a shot from the left point past a screened Lyndon Stanwood, before a Jedd Soleway bank job and Mitch McAllister rebound gave the visitors a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Vernon would blow the game wide open during a 5-minute stretch early in the second period. Soleway wristed a puck over Stanwood's shoulder on an early power-play, then Trail product Craig Martin won a one-on-one battle to score his first goal against the team with whom he was an affiliate last season to up Vernon's lead to 5-0.
Michael Roberts would add a sixth Viper goal before the six-minute mark of the second period, chasing Stanwood. Backup Adam Todd was put under pressure right away though, as Adam Tambellini chipped home a hard point pass from Kevin Guiltinan at the 7:19 mark to put Vernon ahead of the shell-shocked Smokies squad 7-0.
Trail found the scoresheet at the last gasp of period two on a pretty passing play. Djordje Leposavic whipped a hard pass from the top of the left-wing circle to the right post, finding Mitch Foyle who redirected the puck into the top corner for his first goal at home this season.
The Vipers kept on the pressure in period three, adding to their lead on a one-timer from Pearce Eviston and a sneaky wrister from the left side by Logan Mick before the Smokies rounded out proceedings on a late Adam Wheeldon power-play goal.
Danny Todosychuk made 41 saves between the pipes for Vernon, while Stanwood was tagged with the loss. Trail also lost forward Luke Sandler in the second period after he incurred a checking from behind major after a heavy collision in the offensive zone with Vipers defenseman Michael Statchuk, who left the game and did not return.
In all, it was a night to forget for Trail. Another horrific defensive start and an inability to click at the offensive end translated into a wide-margin loss to another Interior foe sorely in need of winning points. Credit Vernon for capitalizing on their opportunities and, despite surrendering more than 40 shots, doing a good job of altering pucks or checking Smoke Eater forwards in high-percentage areas of Trail's offensive zone.
My Three Stars:
1. Brett Corkey, Vernon
2. Jedd Soleway, Vernon
3. Ryan Renz, Vernon
Up Next: Another date with the Vipers is on the cards as the Smokies begin a two-game trip next Friday in Vernon. We'll be in Merritt next Saturday night for a matchup with the Centennials.