The Vernon Vipers edged the hometown Salmon Arm Silverbacks 5-4 in overtime in B.C. Hockey League exhibition action Wednesday in the Shuswap. The two teams meet again Friday at 7 p.m. at Kal Tire Place. (Black Press - file photo)

Vernon Vipers score OT pre-season win

The Vernon Vipers improved their B.C. Hockey League pre-season record to 1-1 Wednesday with a 5-4 overtime win in Salmon Arm over the Silverbacks.

The two teams meet again Friday at 7 p.m. at Kal Tire Place (tickets are just $5).

Connor Sleeth got the winner 19 seconds into overtime as the Vipers led a 4-1 second-period lead slip away.

After Drew Bennett opened the scoring four-on-four in the opening period for the home side, the Vipers rattled off the next four goals.

Trey Taylor – named one of three alternate captains for this year’s squad by head coach Jason McKee – tied the game on a five-on-three powerplay, and Curtis Hammond gave the Snakes a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Goals 29 seconds apart by Colby Feist and Nick Cherkowski made it 4-1 Vernon less than three minutes into the middle frame. Sam Schofield got one back for Salmon Arm and it was 4-2 Vipers heading into the third period.

Antonio Andreozzi cut the lead to one goal four minutes into the frame while Trevor Adams scored at 14 minutes to force overtime.

“The game had its up and downs as expected, but it was a good challenge for our group as we continue in the next step of the process,” said McKee on the team’s website. “We were probably guilty of trying to do too much individually at times. That’s an area that needs to be cleaned up before Friday.”

READ MORE: Vernon Vipers announce new head coach

Max Balaga and Dawson Pelletier split the goaltending duties for the Vipers, who will close out the exhibition slate Sunday at 2 p.m. against the defending national Junior A champion Brooks (Albert) Bandits. Vernon fell 3-2 to the Alberta Junior League’s Grande Prairie Storm in their pre-season opener at Kal Tire Place. Ryan Shostack and Ryan Maclean scored for Vernon.

* Joining captain Connor Marritt on the Vipers’ leadership group are Taylor, Landon Fuller and Ben Sanderson.

Fuller, a 20-year-old Williams Lake native, is entering his fifth season of Junior hockey.

“With Landon he has such a commanding presence,” said McKee. “It resonates on the ice and in our dressing room.”

Taylor, 17, from Richmond, is a calming presence in the dressing room and the experience he gained as a 16-year-old last season, as the team made its run to the Fred Page Cup final, will continue to serve the club well.

READ MORE: Prince George sweeps Vernon Vipers in BCHL final

“Age is just a number and he’s a very mature young man,” said McKee.

Sanderson, 19, from Calgary, joined the Vipers in late October last season and made an immediate impact before injury shortened his season. He returned for the post-season, collecting 10 points.

“Ben is a lead by example type of player,” said McKee. “He never takes a shift off and works hard in every regard of the game whether it’s on or off the ice.”


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