It’s a single point the Vernon Vipers might regret let slipping away at some point this B.C. Hockey League season.
The Coquitlam Express – they of the four wins in 29 games – rolled into Vernon and knocked off the league-leading Vipers (21 wins) 3-2 in overtime in front of 1,550 stunned fans at Kal Tire Place Wednesday.
Eric Linell scored his team-leading 17th goal at 2:48 of the first five-minute extra period, beating Anthony Yamnitsky for the game-winner.
The Vipers got a point thanks to the effort of veteran forward Jesse Lansdell.
With his team trailing 2-0 and killing a penalty with seven minutes left to go, Lansdell scored two shorthanded markers. The first was on a penalty shot as he beat Express goalie Brock Hamm at 13:00, just 10 seconds after Keyvan Mokhtari was sent off for cross-checking.
Lansdell scored his second shorthanded goal on the Express man advantage 1:21 later to tie the game 2-2.
Lansdell has seven goals on the season, three of them shorthanded.
Sam Kozlowski staked Coquitlam to a 2-0 lead with his fourth and fifth goals of the year, one in each of the first two periods.
Coquitlam went 0-6 with the man advantage, Vernon was 0-5.
The Express are now 2-1-1 under new head coach Jason Fortier, who took over Nov. 27 when Barry Wolff was fired (former Enderby resident Rob Boyd remains as an Express assistant coach).
Fortier is now 1-1 in his career against the Vipers. He was the coach of the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots when the Vipers hosted the 2014 Royal Bank Cup, and the Patriots lost their last round-robin game, 3-2 to the Vipers, also in in overtime.
The loss eliminated the Patriots from the tournament.
With the single point, the Vipers stay in first place in the Interior Division, two points ahead of the red-hot Penticton Vees, who won their 11th straight Wednesday, 5-1 at home over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Vees are unbeaten in 12.
Vernon visits Salmon Arm Friday, then host the Vees Saturday at 6 p.m. in the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss game.