Two goals less than two minutes apart in the third period proved to be the difference as the visiting Cranbrook Bucks edged the Vernon Vipers 3-2 in B.C. Hockey League action Saturday, Feb. 12, at Kal Tire Place.
The win salvaged a split of the weekend twinbill between the conference rivals (Vernon won 3-2 Friday), and the loss snapped Vernon’s unbeaten streak in regulation time at 11 games.
Kellen Hjartarson opened the scoring for Cranbrook after a turnover at the Vipers blue line.
Griffen Barr evened the score in the second period with a pinball goal off a pair of Cranbrook defenders and past Bucks goalie Nathan Airey.
In the third, the Bucks scored two goals in less than two minutes as Tyson Dyck and Hjartarson scored to give the Bucks a 2-goal lead. JoJo Tanaka-Campbell added a late goal in the dying seconds for Vernon.
Airey made 22 saves for the win while Vernon netminder Roan Clarke stopped 28 shots.
The expansion Bucks (20-16-2-2), who have clinched a playoff spot in the Interior Conference, sit in fifth place, three points ahead of the Vipers (17-15-4-3). Vernon is six points up on the seventh-place Trail Smoke Eaters.
The Vipers will welcome the Wenatchee Wild on Tuesday night, Feb. 15, at Kal Tire Place in the first of three games in four days against the Wild, who are in the eighth and final Interior Conference playoff spot. The two teams will play Thursday and Friday, Feb. 17 and 18, in Washington state.
Cranbrook gets back on the bus for games in Merritt Friday and West Kelowna Saturday.
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