Steven Jandric of the Vernon Vipers (right) battles for possession against Ryan Barrow of the Langley Rivermen Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

Steven Jandric of the Vernon Vipers (right) battles for possession against Ryan Barrow of the Langley Rivermen Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

Rivermen blank Vipers

Bo Didur made 31 saves as the Langley Rivermen stopped the Vernon Vipers 2-0 in B.C. Hockey League action Friday at Kal Tire Place...

Bo knows good defence.

Bo Didur made 31 saves as the Langley Rivermen stopped the Vernon Vipers 2-0 in B.C. Hockey League action in front of 2,004 fans Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

“The guys came ready to play tonight,” said Didur (Penn State) one of 12 Rivermen with NCAA commitments. “We’ve been talking about playing our last games of the year like a playoff series and we’re trying to get better every game.

“I thought tonight was one of our better full-60-minute games this season. They bailed me out a bunch of time, they blocked shots and did what they needed to do.”

Despite the loss, Vernon (22-26-3-0) stayed four points ahead of the Merritt Centennials (19-28-4-1) in the battle for the fourth and final Interior Conference playoff spot as the Cents dropped a 4-2 decision to the Cowichan Valley Capitals in Duncan Friday.

Merritt played in Victoria Saturday and finish a three-game Island swing this afternoon against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

The Trail Smoke Eaters – five points back of Vernon – played in Penticton Saturday.

Didur was at his best in the third period, particularly on Vipers’ sniper Odeen Tufto.

The West Vancouver native stopped Tufto twice on one-timers from the slot.

He then got help to preserve his second shutout of the year in the dying seconds, with the Vipers on a two-man power play and goalie Andrew Shortridge on the bench for an extra attacker, from the long reach of 6-foot-5 defenceman Jordan Schneider, who got his stick out to deflect a Tufto shot over a wide-open net.

Jason O’Neill (New Hampshire), on a first-period deflection, and Max Kaufman (Vermont), on an individual effort in the second where he darted around Vernon defenceman Callum Volpe, went in alone on Shortridge who made the original save only to have Kaufman bang in his own rebound, scored for the Rivermen.

“I thought we had a pretty solid effort,” said disappointed Vipers forward Ben Butcher, acquired from the Rivermen in a November trade.

“Everyone had their feet moving and was going pretty hard. I don’t think we really got the bounces tonight and didn’t bear down on our chances.”

The Vipers have scored eight goals in their last four games but six of them came in one night, a 6-3 win at Prince George.

“There’s not much cause for concern yet,” said Butcher. “I think the offence dries up a bit sometimes, but we have to work as a team, get more pucks to the net and the goals should come.”

Andrew Shortridge was solid in goal for Vernon, returning after missing a game while battling tonsillitis.

He made 27 saves, the best coming in the second period on back-to-back chances from Torrin White. Shortridge also made a nice glove save, then smacked Rivermen forward Justin Szeto to the ice with the glove.

Langley sits three points back of the Wenatchee Wild in the battle for second place in the Mainland Division (Wild beat Prince George 6-1 Friday at home).

The Rivermen, 6-4 winners Thursday night in Surrey, play four of their final five games on the road.

The Vipers have three games in four days this week against the West Kelowna Warriors (who lost 5-2 to the Vees Friday night).

Two of those games are back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday in West Kelowna and Vernon, respectively.

Both games are promoting the anti-bullying campaign and expect to have hundreds of school students in attendance as both contests start at 11 a.m.

The third game is Friday night at Royal LePage Place.

Meanwhile, Vernon product Spencer Hewson is hot for the Nanaimo Clippers.

Hewson has four goals and seven points in his last two games. He had 2+2 in Thursday’s 6-3 road win at Alberni Valley, 24 hours after picking up 2+1 in a 7-4 home-ice win over Cowichan Valley.

Hewson has 10 goals and 22 points in his third season with the Clippers.

GAMES REMAINING:

VERNON (7): Home: West Kelowna, Surrey, Wenatchee; AWAY: West Kelowna (2), Chilliwack, Trail;

MERRITT (5): Home: Alberni Valley, Penticton, Wenatchee; AWAY: Alberni Valley, Trail;

TRAIL (4): Home: Merritt, Salmon Arm, Vernon;  AWAY: Salmon Arm.