Vernon Vipers forward Zack Tonelli skates away from West Kelowna defenceman Billy Sowa during the Vipers’ 4-3 win over the Warriors in the final B.C. Hockey League pod game at Vernon’s Kal Tire Place Sunday, May 9. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers photography)

Vernon Vipers forward Zack Tonelli skates away from West Kelowna defenceman Billy Sowa during the Vipers’ 4-3 win over the Warriors in the final B.C. Hockey League pod game at Vernon’s Kal Tire Place Sunday, May 9. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers photography)

Vernon Vipers edge West Kelowna to close out BCHL pod

Vipers hold on for 4-3 victory at Kal Tire Place as 20-game season comes to a close

The Vernon Vipers’ quartet of graduating players made their final Junior A hockey games a memorable one.

Tyler Carpendale had a goal and an assist, Hunter Donohoe added a goal, Seth Bafaro had an assist and James Porter Jr. made 19 saves as the champion Vernon Vipers edged the West Kelowna Warriors 4-3 in the final B.C. Hockey League pod game in Vernon Sunday, May 9, at Kal Tire Place.

The Vipers, who finished the mini 20-game season at 13-5-1-1, clinched the pod Friday with a 3-1 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Warriors went 8-10-1-1. The Silverbacks, who fell 7-6 in a shootout Saturday to the Warriors, ended up 9-7-2-2.

Vernon jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes Sunday on goals from Carpendale, Donohoe and Reagan Milburn. Tyler Cristall got the Warriors on the board 1:42 into the third period.

The Vipers restored their three-goal bulge at 8:07 on a marker from Sam Duerr, his first of the pod season. Goals from Nicolas Ardanaz at 9:48 and Tyson Jugnauth at 18:55 made for an exciting finish for the Warriors.

Forwards Carter Wilkie, Ben Woodhouse and goaltender Zach Bennett played their final games for West Kelowna as the trio ages out. Bennett finished with 32 saves.

Ryan Shostak led the Vipers in scoring during the pod schedule with five goals and 13 assists for 18 points, one better than Carpendale (9-8-17). Marcus Joughin led the Warriors with 23 points (6-17), five more than Wilkie (11-7-18).

Vernon’s record put them in fifth place overall out of the five pods. The Penticton Vees went 18-1-0-1 to win their pod at home over Trail and Cranbrook, finishing with the league’s best record.

The Surrey Eagles took the Coquitlam pod over the Express and Powell River Kings, finishing a game behind the Vees at 17-2-1-0.

The reigning Fred Page Cup playoff champion Prince George Spruce Kings took the Chilliwack pod at 14-5-0-1 over the Chiefs and Merritt Centennials, who had the worst record at 3-17-0-0.

Victoria Grizzlies took the Port Alberni pod with a record of 14-6-0-0, finishing ahead of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Nanaimo Clippers and Cowichan Valley Capitals.

The Silverbacks finished eighth out of the 16 participating pod teams while West Kelowna finished 10th.

The expansion Cranbrook Bucks went 3-16-0-1.

The Langley Rivermen opted out of the pod season while the Wenatchee Wild did not play due to travel restrictions from the United States.

There are no BCHL playoffs for 2021.

READ MORE: B.C. hockey team offering free tickets to hometown fans who get the COVID-19 vaccine

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