Vernon, BC: The Vernon Vipers and Grande Prairie Storm both iced young lineups on Friday night at Kal Tire Place, but it was the visitors who would come out on top 3-2 in the first meeting between these two teams in over a decade.
The rink rust lurked on both teams early in the hockey game as the play was a little sporadic and choppy. The Storm opened the scoring on a powerplay as Ethan Strang wired a shot from the circle under the glove of Viper starter Ross Hawryluk. The Lloydminster product really seemed to settle down after surrendering the first goal of the game stopping 5 of 6 in the period.
The Vipers equalized at the tail end of a penalty as Ryan Shostack deked out Lars Kaliel to make it 1-1. Midway thru the period Grande Prairie would swap their goalie and Kaeden Lane jumped in. He was greeted by a Ryan Maclean wrist shot that just squeaked across the line to give the Vipers their first lead of the night. The Vipers controlled the play in the middle frame outshooting the Storm 14-5.
The Storm chipped away in the third period as Ty Toews potted home a rebound to make it 2-1. Just over 3 minutes later, Jackson Wozniak scored to give GP their lead back. Despite an 11-6 shot advantage for the Vipers in the third, those goals would stand up as the game finished 3-2 in favour of Grande Prairie.
“We had a young lineup that performed pretty well. It was a little sloppy at times, but that’s to be expected,” says Head Coach and GM of the Vipers Jason McKee. “These games are the next step in the evaluation process as we work to put together our final roster.”
Following the game, the Vipers trimmed the roster from 33 to 27.
The Vipers will hit the road on Wednesday for a preseason date with the Silverbacks, before welcoming them back next Friday night.