It was a barn burner at Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place Friday night as the Bucks held on to a 6-5 victory over the visiting Vernon Vipers.
The Vipers got a pair of goals from Thomas Tien and Lee Parks, who helped keep the score close after the Vipers fell to three-goal deficits on multiple occasions.
In the end, Bucks goalie Nathan Airey secured the win, stopping 32 of 37 shots he faced. Vipers goaltender Roan Clarke had a challenging night, surrendering four goals on 14 shots before being replaced by Ethan David early in the second period. Clarke took the net again in the third and made 33 saves in the no decision.
The Vipers wasted no time getting on the board as Parks scored his 19th of the season 1:17 into the first period. But less than two minutes later, Bucks winger Blake Cotton buried his fifth of the season to tie the game at one goal apiece.
At the seven minute mark of the first, Jack Silich tallied a powerplay goal, his 21st of the season, to give the Bucks their first lead. Peyton Mithmuangneua then scored his first career BC Hockey League goal to extend the lead to 3-1.
Early in the second, the Bucks pulled further away with a goal from Kaslo Ferner — also his first BCHL goal — but just 27 seconds later, Tien buried his first of the night and fourth of the season to make it 4-2.
Just past the seven minute mark of the second, Noah Quinn scored for the Bucks. That was followed by a pair of goals from the Vipers, the first off the stick of Anson McMaster and the second by Parks, making it a 5-4 hockey game.
In the final minute of the second, the Bucks got the eventual game-winner courtesy of Ferner’s second goal of the night and second of his BCHL career.
Tien capped off the scoring for the Vipers 7:49 into the third, making for an exciting finish, but that’s as close as the Vipers would come.
The Vipers are in seventh place in the Interior division with 46 points in 45 games, while the Bucks have clinched a playoff spot and sit second in the division, nine points ahead of the West Kelowna Warriors.
The Vipers continue their road trip Saturday night in Trail. Puck drops at 7 p.m.