Texan Thomas Aldworth converted a breakaway 48 seconds into overtime as the Vernon Vipers clipped the Chilliwack Chiefs 5-4 in B.C. Hockey League play Saturday night at Kal Tire Place.
Aldworth stripped defenceman Brandon Tkachuk of a bouncing puck at the Viper blueline and beat Chief net detective Aidan Pelino top corner as the Vipers stretched their win streak to three games.
Vernon will spend Thanksgiving Sunday alone in second place in the Interior Division at 5-3-0-1.
The Chiefs, who had won two straight, dipped to 6-2. The point moved them into a share of first place in the Mainland Division with the idle Prince George Spruce Kings.
“I saw the dee call for the puck,” said Aldworth, a 19-year-old roadrunner. “He was bobbling it so I thought why not go for the poke. I got it from him, beat him down the ice; it kind of bobbled on me, but I got it back and went top shelf. This is a huge two points for our team.”
Freshman Jagger Williamson, who just turned 16, recorded his first BCHL snipe for the Vipers, burying a rebound in tight after d-man Ryley Booth was denied by Pelini, with 1:56 gone in the second period.
The Chiefs led 2-0 after 20 minutes despite getting outshot 13-6.
Jake Larson, who pocketed 44 goals with the Minnesota Wilderness two seasons ago when the Wilderness qualified for the Royal Bank Cup in Summerside, P.E.I., opened the Chiefs’ offence at 6:38. Craig Puffer picked up an errant pass by Vernon d-man Brandon Egli and drew the assist.
Californian Luke McColgan, the younger brother of former Kelowna Rocket Shane McColgan, connected from Larson a dozen minutes later, on a two-on-one break after the Vipers were caught pinching on a powerplay.
McColgan finished with the hat trick, giving him six on the year, tying Puffer for the team lead. McColgan previously enjoyed eight- and 12-goal seasons with the Battlefords North Stars of the Saskatchewan Junior League.
“That was my first hat trick in my junior career,” said McColgan. “That was quite exciting trying to get a win for the team. Honestly, I’ve never been a big goal scorer. I guess I’m working hard and good things are happening.”
The Chiefs went ahead 3-1 midway through the second when McColgan wired a wrister from the high slot past Jarrod Schamerhorn.
Vernon responded 68 seconds later when rookie Branden Wagner banged in an Aldworth rebound in tight. It was Wagner’s second goal of the year.
The Snakes equalized at 7:11 of the third before 1,550 fans when Trevor Fidler found an empty net right side after Luke Voltin’s shot bounced off Pelino’s chest.
Aldworth netted his fourth of the season with 11 minutes remaining. He turned and fired a high shot from just inside the blueline after Mackenzie bauer did some nice work to keep the puck in the Chiefs’ zone with no support.
McColgan forced OT just seven seconds after Pelino was pulled for a sixth attacker, burying a slapper from the point two feet off the ice, with 53 seconds left in regulation.
Vernon outshot Chilliwack 37-26.
Please see Wednesday’s Morning Star for further Viper coverage.