It was quite the display of speed and skill from the Vernon Vipers who took care of the Burnaby Express 8-1 Sunday afternoon.
This meeting was a much different story from the last time these two teams met back on October 4th in Vernon where the Vipers prevailed 4-2. That day the Express slowed the pace down and played a tight defensive game allowing the game to go down to the wire.
Sunday, Vernon jumped on Burnaby early getting the puck in their zone, and the defending RBC Cup champions used their speed to work the puck in the offensive zone and not allowing Burnaby to come out of their end in the games opening moments.
Vernon's quick puck movement, speed in pursuit of the puck and overall team speed was something to behold. Vernon used that relentless attack in the games opening minutes to set the tone for the rest of the game.
The Vipers opened the scoring less than 5 minutes into the game when Bryce Kakoske was set up after some brilliant puck movement and Kakoske wired a shot over the shoulder of Harrison May to open the scoring.
And from that point on the Vipers were rolling. Pressuring Burnaby in their own zone in the opening period.
One of the rare chances Burnaby did have was Simon Denis firing a perfect pass on the tape of Dylan Herold sending him away on a breakaway. But the Express captain was stopped by Vipers goaltender Graeme Gordon.
In the first period when the Express did get out of their zone, Vernon would force turnovers in the neutral zone and turn the play back the other way on 2 on 1's and the Vipers made Burnaby pay for their mistakes with goals from Mike Collins and Drew George to give the Vipers a 3-0 lead after the opening period.
Vernon outshot Burnaby 17-2 in the first period.
It was more of the same for Vernon in the second, Mike Collins added his second of the game after taking a perfect cross ice pass from Jonathan Milhouse to give Vernon a 4-0 lead.
Vernon is even deadly pursuing the puck while shorthanded and make turnovers end up in the back of the oppositions net. With Dylan Walchuk in the box for Vernon, they forced another turnover resulting in another 2 on 1 break and Braden Pimm scored shorthanded to extend Vernon's lead to 5. That goal was followed 27 seconds later by Mike Collins finishing off his hat-trick when he stole the puck off an Express defenceman in front of the Burnaby net and Collins fired a quick shot beating Harrison May.
Vernon has now scored 14 shorthanded goals this season.
That goal mercifully brought an end to Harrison May's day who was relieved by Nick Enegren after allowing 6 goals on 26 shots. The Burnaby goaltender didn't have much of a chance on any of the 6 pucks that got passed him.
Kellen Jones set up his twin brother Connor in the third period for Vernon's 7th goal. Then Cole Ikkala jammed home a loose puck in the final 2 minutes to give Vernon an 8-0 lead.
The Express rounded out the scoring in the final minute when Malcom Mckinney scored his first BCHL goal firing a puck from the goal line that found a hole to slip past Graeme Gordon to break his shutout bid.
Vipers 8 Express 1.
The win extended Vernon's winning streak to 20 games. They're the first BCHL team to win 20 straight regular season games since the Alberni Valley Bulldogs accomplished the feat back in the 05-06 season.
Sunday was the 12th time in Vernon's 20 game run that they've scored at least 6 goals in a game.
Vernon's record now stands at 27-1 this season. Going back to last years playoffs, the Vipers are now 38-1 in their last 39 games.
Sunday was just a flat out impressive performance of speed, puck pursuit and skill put on display by the Vipers. They're full value for their record.
I know the playoffs are still more than half a season away, but the question has to be raised, who is going to be the team that is going to win 4 out of 7 games vs. the Vipers come playoff time if this team is healthy? It's looking like it's going to be a monumental task.
That team is so deep who do you stop? 15 players hit the scoresheet Sunday for Vernon.