On the 80th anniversary of the first hockey game at the Vernon Civic Arena, it was the Prince George Spruce Kings who spoiled the nostalgia of a sold out building with a 3-2 victory over the Vernon Vipers Saturday night.
It was the Spruce Kings who got on the board first, when Ethan de Jong put home a puck at the side of the net while Prince George was shorthanded. Dustin Manz drew the lone assist.
The Vipers finally gave the Sold Out crowd of 2011 something to cheer about when Jagger Williamson buried the tying goal at 14:56.
After being heavily out-shot throughout the frame, the Spruce Kings couldn’t escape the first period tied as Nico Karamanis scored with 16 seconds remaining as the shots totaled 26-9 for the Vipers. Evan DeBrouwer’s 24 saves stood out as an eventual turning point.
Ben Brar knotted the game at 2 with a deft deflection from a Ben Poisson shot just as a power-play expired for the Spruce Kings.
The oddest goal of the game happened with 1:25 to go in the 3rd period, as Jarod Hovde snapped a shot off the glove of Ty Taylor, which rolled towards the goal line, waved off by the official as it was cleared, although the goal light went on.
At the next stoppage a minute later, the officials got together and overruled that the puck had entered the goal of the back crossbar, and the Spruce Kings were able to take a 3-2 lead into the 3rd period.
In the third period, DeBrouwer continued to make some big stops, none bigger than a glove save with 5 minutes left as he pushed across and flashed the leather. He was named first star with 42 saves.
The Vipers were unable to bury a late scramble in the final minute with their net empty.
Following the game, both teams met at centre ice for a post-game photo, as Saturday’s game was the last for the Civic Arena. It is scheduled to be demolished once a new ice sheet is finished at Kal Tire Place, the regular home rink of the Vipers.
The Spruce Kings will wrap up their interior road trip on Sunday for a 3:00 pm date with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.