Bauer Morrissey (left) and the Cranbrook Bucks defeated Lee Parks and the Vernon Vipers 5-2 in B.C. Hockey League action Sunday afternoon, Jan. 15, at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography file photo)

Bauer Morrissey (left) and the Cranbrook Bucks defeated Lee Parks and the Vernon Vipers 5-2 in B.C. Hockey League action Sunday afternoon, Jan. 15, at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography file photo)

Cranbrook Bucks score 5-2 BCHL win over Vernon Vipers

Two empty-net goals help Bucks to their 24th victory of the season

Two empty-net goals helped the Cranbrook Bucks seal a 5-2 B.C. Hockey League victory over the Vernon Vipers in front of 2,170 fans Sunday afternoon, Jan. 15, at Western Financial Place.

The Bucks have won two of three meetings with the Snakes this season.

It didn’t take long for the home team to give the fans something to cheer about as Noah Quinn scored 22 seconds after the national anthem on the game’s first shot.

Reagan Milburn tied the game for Vernon in the second period with his 11th of the season on a shot that beat Cranbrook goalie Matthew Fleet glove-side at 5:04.

The Bucks took a 2-1 lead 90 seconds into the third period on a goal by Donovan Frias though the Vipers were arguing for goaltender interference on a Cranbrook player in the crease with goalie Ethan David, but didn’t get the call.

Cranbrook added an insurance marker at 15:36 on a powerplay, with Lee Parks in the penalty box for tripping, when Quinn deflected a Bauer Morrissey shot past David.

Walker Erickson brought the Vipers to within a goal at 3-2 with a highlight reel marker at 16:53 and with David on the bench for the extra attacker.

Joe Horn nearly tied the game with two minutes to go but his shot was partially stopped by Fleet and the puck went off the post.

Quinn’s hat-trick goal came into an empty net at 18:37, and with Vernon on a late powerplay, Kellan Hjartarson scored another into an empty net for Cranbrook at 19:50.

David finished with 24 saves for Vernon while Fleet stopped 33 shots for the Bucks.

Both teams were coming off wins Friday night. Vernon defeated the Cowichan Valley Capitals 4-1 at home, while the Bucks blanked the visiting Wenatchee Wild 2-0 behind a 32-save effort from goalie Carton Capton.

Cranbrook improves to 24-10-1-0 on the year and enjoy a five-point lead over the West Kelowna Warriors in the battle for second place in the Interior Conference. The Bucks are 15 points back of the league-leading Penticton Vees.

Vernon, at 16-14-0-4, failed to move into a tie for fifth place with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, and are just one point ahead of the seventh-place Wild.

The league now breaks for its 60th anniversary weekend celebrations Jan. 20 and 21 in Penticton.

The Vipers, who have won only three road games this season, play eight of their next 11 games away from Kal Tire Place. Their next contest, though, is a home date with the Vees Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m.

Cranbrook, in the midst of a six-game home stand, plays its next game Friday, Jan. 27, against West Kelowna.

READ MORE: Trade deadline acquisition helps Vernon Vipers triumph over Cowichan Valley 4-1

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