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Vernon Viper d-man Bryce Eviston ties up the Salmon Arm SilverBacks’ Spencer Hewson, a Vernon native, in front of netminder Danny Todosychuk in B.C. Hockey League action Friday at the Shaw Centre.
Chris Fowler/Pure Life Photography

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Salmon Arm SilverBacks bank pivotal win

The Vernon Vipers came agonizingly close to propelling themselves back into B.C. Hockey League playoff contention Friday night at the Shaw Centre.

Standing in their way was netminder Adam Clark, who recorded a 28-save, first-star performance as the host Salmon Arm SilverBacks hung on for a 3-2 win in front of 1,500 fans.

It is the third time in seven regular-season matchups that the towering tender from Sherwood Park, Alta. has come away with a game star.

“Clark was real good again,” said Vipers’ head coach Jason Williamson. “We had lots of chances but he made some big stops on 2-on-1s.

“We had our chances late, some good chances in tight with the goalie pulled, but he found a way to stop us.”

Vernon (17-24-1-8) is seven points back of the fourth-place SilverBacks (22-23-2-4) for the final Interior Division playoff spot.

The Gorillas are on the road for their five remaining regular-season tilts. The Vipers, who have a game in hand, hosted the Langley Rivermen (21-23-1-5) Saturday night at Wesbild Centre. They are in West Kelowna on Tuesday for a date with the 24-13-3-9 Warriors at Royal LePage Place.

Mitch McAllister (3rd goal) walked out from the corner to beat Clark for the opening goal late in the first period. D-man Ryan Renz pinched at the point to keep the play alive.

Renz jumpstarted the game with a great scrap against Blake Box after the Salmon Arm blueliner ran over Mason Blacklock.

Alex Gillies, with his team-leading 19th goal, earned the equalizer with 2:05 to go before the intermission.

After a scoreless second period, Gillies set up fellow Vernon product Harlan Orr to give the ‘Backs an early third-period lead on the powerplay.

Ryan Scwalbe beat Danny Todosychuk (33 saves) for the winner less than a minute later.

“It was a big game for both teams,” said Williamson. “A couple breakdowns end up in our net. After that, we didn’t give them anything.”

D-man Jason Bird (2nd) pulled Vernon within one midway through the period as the Vipers crashed Clark’s doorstep.

Williamson noted the solid Vernon fan support in enemy territory.

“Even at the end of the game, the fans were cheering,” he said. “I’ve got to give them credit for sticking behind us.”

SNAKE BITES: SilverBacks captain Brandon Mistal reached the 200-game milestone Friday night. He has split four Junior A seasons between the ‘Backs and Cowichan Valley...Ex-Viper Adam Tambellini pocketed four goals for the Surrey Eagles as they iced the host Powell River Kings 5-4 in OT Friday night.

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