Contributed by Jesse Adamson for BCHL Communications
Tonight – Chilliwack Chiefs (22-20-3-3) at Vernon Vipers (33-13-3-1)
7 p.m. at Kal Tire Place in Vernon
Presented by the BCIHL
The two teams tied 4-4 in their only meeting of the season on Nov. 1 in Chilliwack. In a penalty-filled first period, Vernon jumped out to a 3-0 lead on goals from Josh Prokop, Niko Karamanis and defenceman Michael Ufberg, two of which came on the power play. The teams exchanged goals in the second period, defenceman Bryan Allbee for Chilliwack and Ufberg again for the Vipers, to make it 4-1 going into the third. Chilliwack stormed back to tie the game with third-period goals from Jared Turcotte and two more from Allbee to complete the hat trick. After his offensive outburst, Allbee was named first star of the game.
Vernon’s Jimmy Lambert leads the team in scoring with 50 points (18-32-50) in 47 games, which is tied for 13th most in the BCHL. The team’s second-leading scorer is Brett Stapley who has 48 points (20-28-48) in 44 games, 19th most in the league. Michael Ufberg is tied for second in the league in points by defencemen with 43 points (5-38-43) in 50 games. His 38 assists are tied for fifth most in the league among all skaters. Vipers goalie Ty Taylor leads the BCHL in almost all major goaltending categories including save percentage (.932) and goals-against average (1.82) and his seven shutouts are four more than any other goaltender in the league.
Will Calverley leads the Chiefs in points with 39 (14-25-39) in 45 games. The team’s second-leading scorer is Tommy Lee who has 34 points (16-18-34) in 45 games. Lee also leads the team in goals with 16. Bryan Allbee leads the team in points from defencemen with 28 points (8-20-28) in 43 games. Chiefs goalie Mathieu Caron is tied for ninth in the BCHL with a goals-against average of 2.74 while playing the tenth-most minutes in the league.
What’s at Stake
After leading the league and their division for most of the season, the Vipers now find themselves in third place in the Interior Division with 69 points. They are one point behind the Wenatchee Wild for second place, two behind the first-place Penticton Vees and four ahead of the fourth-place Trail Smoke Eaters in the division.
Chilliwack is in fourth place in Mainland Division with 50 points. They are four points behind the third-place Langley Rivermen, five behind the second-place Surrey Eagles and eight behind the first-place Prince George Spruce Kings. The Chiefs have lost their last three games, all to division rival Prince George.
Vernon Vipers head coach Mark Ferner on tonight’s matchup against Chilliwack:
“They’re very talented. There’s a good history with that program, very successful. They’ve got some guys that can hurt you and you’ve got to be aware. They’re a team that’s hosting the Royal Bank Cup, so it’s a very talented team, a well coached team, and we’re going to have to be close to our best tonight.
“We need to make sure that we’re paying attention to detail and that we have good habits…We need to simplify our game and have a good work ethic.”
Ferner on his team’s league-best goals against numbers:
“Habits, details, it’s something that we talk about and something that we take pride in. Obviously, both goalies have been very good for us, Anthony Yamnitsky and Ty Taylor, and the guys in front of them have been pretty good. It’s just something that we’ve always as an organization really tried to pay attention to, being a good team away from the puck.”
Ferner on his team’s tight playoff race atop the Interior Division:
“I think that’s the way the game should be. The parity in the league is real good. That’s just a credit to the BC Hockey League. Where we finish, we don’t really worry too much about it. We just worry about how we’re playing, not who we’re playing. We didn’t play this past weekend, we were in first spot, by the time the weekend ended we were in third and we didn’t win or lose a hockey game. We have eight games left. It’s going to be a tight fight and we certainly don’t look past our opponent that we play next. It’s been fun.”
Chilliwack Chiefs head coach Jason Tatarnic on tonight’s matchup against Vernon:
“They’re a good hockey team. They’re highly skilled, they play with a lot of pace. They have a pretty solid D core and they’re getting good goaltending from their young goalie there Ty Taylor and [Anthony] Yamnitsky is a veteran, so they’re a pretty balanced hockey team.
“They’ve got a real good power play so obviously discipline is important. We want to limit those chances that they do have and when they do have them we’ve got to be real good on the penalty kill and for us, when we get our power-play opportunities we’ve got to capitalize. You want to win the special-teams battle. I think if you do that you have a chance to win.”
Tatarnic on facing one of the top teams in the BCHL:
“We don’t really focus on that. In our minds, there’s 17 teams in our league and we think everyone is pretty darn good this year. The parity throughout the league has been demonstrated night after night…On any given night, anyone can beat anyone if you don’t bring your A game…I think our league’s so balanced this year that you have to bring it every night.”
Tatarnic on getting his team’s confidence back up after three straight losses to Prince George:
“As a coaching staff, we were really pleased with our games in Prince George. Even though we lost, we played extremely well, well enough to win those hockey games. We made sure that we relayed that to our players, that they played really well.”
ABOUT THE BCIHL
The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League was created with the purpose of offering a venue for competitive, high-calibre hockey that’s close to home for players beyond their junior careers. The league was launched in 2006 and now includes six member teams: Eastern Washington University, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University. This season, 25 graduates with over 2750 games of BCHL experience are pursuing their academic and athletic goals in the BCIHL. To learn more about the BCIHL and playing opportunities for BCHL grads, visit BCIHL.ca.