Vernon Vipers
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Vernon Viper netminder Austin Smith stops Salmon Arm’s Carter Lukenda (No. 17) on his doorstep in BCHL action Friday night at the Shaw Centre.
James Murray/Black Press Sports

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Vernon Viper offence sputtering

The Vernon Vipers can officially lay claim to the worst offence in the B.C. Hockey League.

Following their third consecutive loss, a 4-2 decision to the host Salmon Arm SilverBacks Friday night at the Shaw Centre, the Snakes have produced a league low 84 goals, three less than the last-place Cowichan Valley Capitals (who have four games in hand).

The Vipers have just one point-per game player in Adam Tambellini (21-17-38 in 35 games), and Pearce Eviston is the only other with 20 points or more (9-15-24 in 34 games).

Tambellini, whose goal production accounts for more than a quarter of the team’s offensive output, is pointless in the last three games.

With the 11-17-0-7 Vipers seven points out of an Interior Division playoff spot, and with just five days until the league trade deadline, Vernon head coach/GM Jason Williamson has a serious dilemma on his hands. The sophomore bench boss said changes are coming, but didn’t say whether it would involve a major overhaul or minor tweaks to upgrade the roster.

As has been the case of late, Williamson said there were just too many passengers against the resurgent SilverBacks (16-15-1-3), who raced out to a 3-0 lead on singles by Evan Anderson (9th goal), Jeff Kennedy (5th) and Anthony Croston (2nd, shorthanded).

“Our young kids were good, and some players definitely laid it on the line, but we just didn’t have everybody doing that,” he said.

“This is their job. They have to breath, eat and sleep this game.”

A pair of Vernon products – Alex Gillies and third star Harlan Orr – each drew an assist for the ‘Backs.

The Vipers’ Brendan Persley (2nd) got Vernon on the board with 3:40 to go in the second period, banging home his second attempt in front of netminder Adam Clark (30 saves) on a powerplay.

TJ Dumonceux (6th), who assisted on Persley’s goal, brought Vernon two within two goals after Brendan Kennedy (2nd) made it 4-1 before the second intermission.

Williamson credited Viper rookie Logan Mick for setting up the play by driving to the net and “doing what we did all week in practice.”

Vernon netminder Austin Smith was relieved by Danny Todosychuk after allowing four goals on 20 shots. Todosychuk stopped seven shots.

Vernon faced the third-place West Kelowna Warriors (14-11-2-7) Saturday night at Wesbild Centre.

In other BCHL action Friday night, the Warriors pummeled the visiting Capitals 8-1 at Royal LePage Place.

Former Viper Marcus Basara led the West Kelowna attack with two goals and two assists. Also getting in on the offence were first star Braxton Bilous (2+1), captain Max French, Jetlan Houcher, Brennan Clark and second star Devon Hascarl, a Vernon product.

Hascarl, 19, was carded full-time by the Warriors over the Christmas break.

Tyler Biggs recorded 19 stops for his 12th win, while Connor LaCouvee and backup Stephen Heslop combined for 41 saves for the Caps.

Merritt sniper Regan Soquila collected a deuce as the second-place Centennials doubled the first-place Penticton Vees at Nicola Valley Arena.

Derek Huisman and Sam Johnson rounded out the 20-11-1-1 Cents’ attack in front of Vernon netminder Tyler Steel (25 saves). Brock Balson and Brad McClure responded for the 23-10-0-3 Vees, who got 35 stops from Nic Renyard.

The Surrey Eagles extended their win streak to four games with a 6-3 doubling of the host Trail Smoke Eaters at Cominco Arena.

Brady Shaw paced the Eagles, second in the Mainland Division at 21-10-1-2, with two goals. Former Warrior Brett Mulcahy added a goal and two helpers in support of netminder Michael Santaguida (29 saves).

Trail got singles from Braeden Jones, Adam Wheeldon and Valik Chichkin. Lyndon Stanwood (22 saves) took the loss.

Other Friday games saw the Victoria Grizzles pound the Nanaimo Clippers 5-1; the Chilliwack Chiefs outgun the Coquitlam Express 5-3; and Powell River Kings blank the Prince George Spruce Kings 2-0.

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