The Vernon Vipers bounced back from an opening game loss at the Royal Bank Cup tournament at Kal Tire Place in Vernon Monday with a 6-4 win over the Yorkton Terriers.
Colton Sparrow scored a hat trick as the Vipers jumped out to a five-goal second-period lead and eventual 6-4 win over the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League champion.
Sparrow had the lone goal of the first and had one of the three the Vipers scored in a 41 second span to open the second period. Game MVP Liam Coughlin connected on the powerplay to ignite the fireworks 51 seconds into the session. Brett Mulcahy scored 17 seconds later and Sparrow made it 4-0 just 24 seconds after that. Michael McNicholas made it 5-0 for the host side before Brett Boehm got the Terriers on the board with 4:28 to go in the second.
“Sparrow’s been a guy who I’ve leaned on all year long,” Vipers coach Jason Williamson told the Vernon Morning Star. “He’s obviously brought his A game in the playoffs. There are certain players that you know are going to rise above everything and he was a guy, once we set off in the playoffs, we knew he’d he better, playing with that energy and jam he has. I’ve just gotta get him on the ice as much as I can because when he’s on the ice, good things happen. This probably matters more to him than anyone in that locker room, or anyone in this tournament.”
Yorkton rattled off three more in the third to get within one but Sparrow finished his hat trick in the final minute of regulation to afford Vernon some breathing space at the end.
Castlegar’s Ryan Renz made an early exit for the Vipers after getting penalized for a hit to the head midway through the second period.
Austin Smith made 40 saves in the Vernon crease, as the Terriers outshot the Vipers 44-33.