Vernon Vipers
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Defenceman Bryce Eviston (middle) ties up forward Adam Tambellini (right) while Ryan Renz clears a loose puck during a drill at Vernon Viper practice Wednesday afternoon at Wesbild Centre.
Graeme Corbett/Morning Star

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Vernon Vipers regroup for playoff push

The Vernon Vipers are painfully aware the scoreclock is ticking away on their B.C. Hockey League season. What they do with the remaining 22 games will determine whether or not they miss the playoffs for a second straight season.

The Vipers, last in the Interior Division at 11-16-0-7, are five points back of the Salmon Arm SilverBacks (15-15-1-3), who occupy the final playoff spot. The teams tangle tonight at the Shaw Centre.

Vernon, 2-7-0-1 in their last 10 games, entertain the third-place West Kelowna Warriors (13-11-2-7) Saturday at Wesbild Centre.

“We’re not sitting in a good spot and our job is to get into the playoffs,” said head coach Jason Williamson, who welcomed his players back from the holiday break with a leg-deadening skate Wednesday at Wesbild.

“People keep thinking about next season (hosting RBC Cup national championships), but that’s not our goal right now. Our goal is to make sure we’re winning this year and we’ve got a job to do.

“We’ve got to do the right things with the last 22 games... and it’s gotta start (tonight).”

Power forward Aaron Hadley, an alternate captain, is less than thrilled with the Vipers’ current standing, but is adamant the team can turn it around.

“It’s a huge disappointment,” said Hadley, who visited with family and friends in his hometown of Castlegar over the break. “There’s no going around it. We did not live up to expectations in the first half, but I believe in this team.

“It was good for us to have a break; it came at a good time. The plan is to regroup for 2013 and I think we’re going to have a good year.”

Hadley was right in one regard to the break – the team, for the most part, is healthy. Banged up forwards TJ Dumonceaux and Mitch McAllister, and veteran d-men Geoff Crisfield and Brett Corkey, appear primed to return from the injured list, leaving forward Craig Martin, who is recovering from a broken foot, as the lone casualty.

SNAKE BITES: The ‘Backs continued their ongoing roster shuffle with the signing of Jordan Levesque from the Nanaimo Junior B Buccaneers Wednesday. The 17-year-old native of Nanaimo amassed 18 goals and 12 assists in helping propel the Bucs to first place in the Vancouver Island league’s North Division. He has three points in seven games as a call-up with the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

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