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Vernon Vipers smoke Trail 6-2, advance to 2nd round of BCHL playoffs

The Vipers now await their second-round opponent
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The Vernon Vipers celebrate on the ice after defeating the Trail Smoke Eaters 6-2 to advance to the second round Friday night, April 12, 2024. (Lisa Mazurek Photography)

The Vernon Vipers have punched their ticket to the second round of the BC Hockey League (BCHL) playoffs.

The Vipers wrapped up their first-round series against the Trail Smoke Eaters with a 6-2 win Friday night, taking the best-of-seven series in five games.

Hank Cleaves and Owen Kim each had a pair of goals for the Vipers, while Isaac Tremblay had four assists and was named the game’s first star.

The Smoke Eaters got on the board first when Maxim Potvin tallied his first of the postseason just over six minutes into the first period.

Vernon would soon take the lead, however, as Carson McGinley scored his second of the playoffs with a deflection, and Cleaves scored on a powerplay with 16 seconds left in the opening frame to make it 2-1 Snakes.

Cleaves then picked up right where he left off, scoring a goal early in the second period. Kim added another Vipers goal a couple minutes later to make it 4-1 Vipers.

Lucas Lemieux added a second goal for the Smoke Eaters late in the second, but just 40 seconds into the third, Luke Bibby potted his third goal of the playoffs on the powerplay. Kim added his second goal of the night and fourth of the postseason to make it 6-2, which would be the final score with Vipers goalie Ethan David shutting the door in the third period.

Special teams were in the Vipers’ favour as the team went two for three on the powerplay and killed off the lone Trail powerplay.

Smoke Eaters netminder Ryan Parker was pulled from the game early in the second period after allowing four goals on 17 shots. He was replaced by Teagan Kendrick, who made 20 saves on 22 shots.

As the Smoke Eaters’ season comes to an end, the Vipers are waiting to find out who their second-round opponent will be.

The remaining teams will re-seed in the second round. So far in the Interior, Vernon and the Penticton Vees have secured their spot in the second round after the Vees — who were first place in the division — swept the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Salmon Arm and West Kelowna are both up 3-2 in their series against Merritt and Cranbrook, respectively. If Salmon Arm and West Kelowna both advance, that would set up a second-round series between the Vipers and the Vees.

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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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