Mired in a six-game B.C. Hockey League losing skid, Vernon Vipers’ head coach and general manager Jason McKee spent the early part of the week shaking up his roster.
McKee shipped out four players and brought in three new bodies over the course of two trades in 24 hours. Two of the new bodies – defenceman Talon Zakall from the Merritt Centennials and forward Max Borovinskiy from the Prince George Spruce Kings – made their Vipers debut Wednesday, Dec. 1, as Vernon snapped its losing streak with an impressive 5-1 win over the visiting third-place West Kelowna Warriors at Kal Tire Place.
The third player acquired in the deals, forward Luke Lavery from the Centennials, is expected in the lineup this weekend as Vernon wraps up a five game homestand with games against the Trail Smoke Eaters Friday (7 p.m.) and the expansion Cranbrook Bucks Saturday (6 p.m.).
Leaving Vernon were forward Logan Lorenz, who went to Prince George, and forward Nick Remissong and defenceman Desmond Johnson and Braden Smith who landed in Merritt along with future considerations.
The Vipers had five different goal scorers and Roan Clarke was spectacular in goal Wednesday, stopping 31 of 32 shots.
The Vipers opened the scoring 53 seconds after the national anthem as Ryan Shostak stole a puck and fed Luke Buss for his ninth goal of the season.
It was a slow start in the second period as the Vipers failed to register a shot in the first eight minutes. Following the media timeout, the Vipers exploded with goals from Jack Glen and Matt Culling 31 seconds apart. Reagan Milburn tallied his seventh goal of the season in the last two minutes of the period making it 4-0 after 40 minutes.
Tyson Jugnauth scored on the powerplay early in the third for West Kelowna, making it 4-1. That lasted 47 seconds before Shostak restored the four-goal lead with his seventh of the season.
Johnny Derrick took the loss in goal for West Kelowna, finishing with 23 saves.
Vernon (5-9-3-2) moved to within four points of the sixth-place Bucks in the Interior Division. Cranbrook lost 7-4 at home Wednesday to Trail. The two moved the Smoke Eaters to within five of the Warriors (13-6-0-0).
TEDDY BEAR TOSS
The game Saturday against the Bucks marks the return of the always popular Teddy Bear Toss.
And it comes with perfect timing as the Vipers are again allowed 100 per cent capacity within Kal Tire Place for their games.
Bring a stuffy to the game and toss it onto the ice after the first Vernon goal Saturday. The toys will be given to local charities.
Shostak will join the NCAA’s Div. 1 Brown University Bears in Providence, Rhode Island, for 2022-23.
The Calgary-born player has spent the last three seasons with the Vipers.
“Ryan has been able to make himself a very complete player through his hard work and understanding of the game. He plays with detail and consistency,” says McKee. “The Vipers organization is very excited to see that Ryan will be continuing his hockey and educational goals at Brown University.”
Shostak is ecstatic to continue his education and hockey development at Brown.
“I want to thank the Vernon Vipers staff, coaches, billets and teammates for helping me accomplish this goal,” he says. “I’m now looking forward to competing for a championship with this group.”
Fellow teammate Zack Tonelli is also committed to Brown University. Another notable Viper Alumni to attend Brown University was Aaron Volpatti.
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