It was 37 seconds from being a long bus ride home for the Vernon Vipers.
But Odeen Tufto’s 10th goal of the year at 19:23 of the third period set the stage for overtime, where Tufto set up Jimmy Lambert for the game-winner at 4:10 as the Vipers beat the Wenatchee Wild 3-2 in front of 3,011 fans Saturday at the Town Toyota Centre in Washington state.
It was the Vipers’ lone B.C. Hockey League game of the weekend.
Vernon (11-12-0-1) hosts the Merritt Centennials (8-16-0-2) tonight at 7 at Kal Tire Place.
“It was a well-played game by both teams,” said Vipers head coach Mark Ferner. “It was a long trip there (5.5 hours) on the day of the game, so we came out a bit slow. Our compete level was excellent and I thought we got stronger as the game went on.”
After a scoreless first period, the Wild (14-5-2-2) opened the scoring two minutes into the middle frame on a goal from Mike Coyne.
Jagger Williamson, with his second of the year, set up by Griffin James and Liam Finlay, tied the game four minutes later.
The Wild took a 2-1 lead into the third period on a power play goal from Kyle Stephan at 9:55.
Williamson and Latrell Charleson drew assists on Tufto’s late equalizer.
“It was just one of those plays where we had our goalie pulled for the extra attacker, we had traffic in front of the net and got shots to the net,” said Ferner. “Fortunately the puck landed on one of our sticks.”
Lambert was the beneficiary of a great play from Tufto on a two-on-two during the four-on-four overtime for his sixth of the year.
“Tufto made a great play and Lambert simply tapped it in back door,” said Ferner. “Both teams had a lot of talent on the ice and you know something good could happen.”
Andrew Shortridge picked up his ninth win of the season, making 33 saves as the Wild outshot Vernon 35-21.
It was Vernon’s one and only trip to Washington state this season.
“It was a great atmosphere there,” said Ferner of the action in front of 3,000-plus fans. “We have to commend the Wild staff, organization and volunteers. The fans were great. We were welcomed with open arms and they treated us like gold.
“They have something special there in Wenatchee.”
The Vipers remain in fourth place in the Interior Division, five points up on Trail and Merritt and three back of third-place West Kelowna Warriors.
The Warriors lost two weekend games, falling 3-1 at home Friday to the Penticton Vees, and 5-3 in Salmon Arm Saturday to the Silverbacks.
Vernon product Colton Thibault scored twice for the Gorillas, who are seven points ahead of West Kelowna, and 11 behind front-running Penticton.
The Vees won their 22nd straight game Saturday, 4-3 at home over the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
League scoring leader Tyson Jost scored his 21st goal (46 points) on a powerplay with 2:08 remaining in regulation time as the game-winner for the Vees.