They are supposed to finish the night as plus players while disturbing the peace in every zone on the ice. Call them blue-collar workers whose refuse-to-lose attitude makes them complete hockey players.
Hardly flashy, the line of Colton McCarthy, Riley Brandt and Jagger Williamson usually does all the right things.
And they were brilliant Friday night, ringing up 10 points as the Vernon Vipers dispatched the Trail Smoke Eaters 5-2 in B.C. Hockey League action Friday night before 1,535 fans at Kal Tire Place.
The Vipers (9-9-0-1) snapped a three-game losing streak. The Smokies dipped to 6-10.
McCarthy (hat trick), Riley Brandt (1+2) and Jagger Williamson (4 assists) did most of the damage. McCarthy scored 10 times in a partial season with Vernon last year after getting eight goals in 110 Western League tilts. He registered 22 snipes with the Junior B Nelson Leafs as a 16-year-old.
“We’re definitely a happy bunch in there right now,” said McCarthy. “We’ve battled through a lot the last couple games but tonight, I’d say we played for 50 minutes and that’s what it took to get the win.”
McCarthy, a 19-year-old captain, gave props to his linemates for his career night. He has scored most of his 11 snipes this year from in tight, but went top cheddar from his knees for the prettiest goal of the year.
“I can’t remember the last hat trick I had. Playing with Riley Brandt and Jagger Williamson, they really helped me out tonight, and I’ll take the three goals I guess. I usually don’t score goals from my knees. We clicked tonight for sure. We’ve been working all week together and we finally put it all together in a game that helped the team win tonight.”
Both teams recorded 42 shots with Andrew Shortridge improving to 8-5. Bailey McBurnie fell to 3-9. The Smokies registered goals 2:06 apart late in the game with Nick Halloran scoring on a breakaway seven seconds into a Trail penalty kill. Halloran, a Utah product who has a scholarship to Air Force, went five-hole on Shortridge for his seventh snipe of the season.
Kurt Black flew down the left wing and beat Shortridge with a hard snap shot with 3:09 to play. Black has five goals on the year.
The Vipers led 3-0 after 20 minutes and went up 4-0 5:20 into the third when rookie d-man Callum Volpe converted on a bomb from the point. D-man Bo Pellah had his second starry game in a row, pocketing three assists, helping McCarthy twice.
“They’re (Smokies) below us in the standings, but it’s definitely a huge win and we’ll build off that this week in practice and carry it on to the road trip down on to the Island. We needed a big game from everyone and that’s what we got tonight.”
Halloran praised Shortridge and felt the Smokies lost their urgency once falling behind 3-0.
“I thought we played well,” said the shifty Halloran. “Their goalie stood on his head and I think we needed to get a couple more bodies in front so he couldn’t see it. He’s a good goalie if he can see it. That’s the bottom line. They got more greasy goals than we did and won the game.”
Vernon is a solid fourth in the Interior Division, six points ahead of the Merritt Centennials, 3-0 losers to the Penticton Vees. Penticton is 16-1.
Brandt fired his eighth of the year on a low deflection of a Williamson shot with 6:44 left in the opening 20. Volpe got the secondary assist.
McCarthy made it 2-0 two minutes later from his knees and then increased the lead with 1:36 to play in the period after Williamson drove the net hard. He whacked in a mid-air pass from Brandt for the hatty.
“We were doing the simple things out there and everyone was shooting the puck and Colton was where he always is in front of the net banging them home,” said Williamson. “That one from his knees was a highlight goal, good for him. Good bounces came our way tonight and we capitalized.”
Vernon gets a week off before opening a three-game road swing Friday in Alberni Valley against the Bulldogs. They also visit the Cowichan Valley Capitals and Surrey Eagles.
In KIJHL action, Tyler Garcia scored on a penalty shot at 3:10 of OT as Nelson clipped the North Okanagan Knights 4-3 Friday night.
Colin Robin, Austin Fournier, on a powerplay, and Trent Redschlag had goals for the Knights, who are 3-11-0-3. Nelson improved to 11-5. The Knights visit Osoyoos Coyotes today.
ICE CHIPS: Smooth d-man Mitch Stapley, recently acquired from Cowichan, played against his younger brother, Brett, a rookie 16-year-old F with the Vipers…Viper W Hunter Zandee rocked Trail blue liner Cooper Sande with the biggest hit of the night, late in the first period…Shortridge stymied John Laurito from ‘gimme’ range with 4:54 left in the first period…The Smokies entertain the Vees in a Sunday matinee.