Liam Coughlin (front) of the Vernon Vipers fights off a check from Ross Heidt of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in B.C. Hockey League play Saturday night at Kal Tire Place.

Vipers alone in third place

Running on fumes after a hectic schedule, the Vernon Vipers didn’t do anything fancy in a 3-0 B.C. Hockey League win over Trail.

Black Press Sports

Running on fumes after a hectic schedule, the Vernon Vipers didn’t do anything fancy in a 3-0 B.C. Hockey League win over the Trail Smoke Eaters Sunday afternoon before 830 fans at Cominco Arena.

Goalie Danny Todosychuk, who missed six games after being punished after a brawl Oct. 18 in West Kelowna, improved to 4-1 with a 1.93 GAA. He turned aside 28 shots for his second shutout of the season for first star honours.

Anthony Latina’s second-period breakaway goal was the winner as the Vipers went to 10-6-1-1, good for third place in the Interior Division.

The Smokies dropped their fourth consecutive game and fell to sixth at 8-9, three points behind the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, who the Vipers tied 3-3 in double overtime Saturday night.

Thomas Aldworth sprung Latina in all alone on Smokie goalie Brett Clark, and the Toronto native made no mistake as he deked to his backhand and slipped the puck through Clark’s pads to put the Vipers up 1-0 less than five minutes into the middle frame. Latina has nine snipes.

It was the fourth game in five days for the Vipers, in which they took five of a possible eight points.

“It was the first time we’ve done it, I mean we played three games in two-and-a-half days in three cities so the message that we sent to the kids was just play simple,” said Viper head coach Mark Ferner. “It’s the hardest thing to get young guys to do is just get pucks out, and get pucks deep, but I thought as the third period rolled around we were doing a little more of that, so I’m certainly proud of our group today.”

The Vipers took a 2-0 lead when Liam Coughlin sent a hard pass from the slot to Luke Voltin who tipped it over the glove of Clark for his third goal of the seaso, with 4:47 to play in the second period.

Coughlin netted his second point of the night and 14th of the season with seven minutes to play in the third period. With the Vipers shorthanded, Coughlin carried the puck into the offensive zone, made a couple of slick moves around two Trail defenders, then dropped it to Mitch Meek in the slot. Meek. a d-man, wired it low blocker side for his third of the year.

“We’re not at the point we were last year, we got the guys, but I don’t know why but things aren’t clicking,” said Smoke Eater assistant coach Craig Clare. “They (Vipers) play a simple game, and we seem to be trying to overthink things; plays that we made, we can’t make them right now, so it’s up to us to battle through it I guess.”

Despite the loss, Clark had another strong game in net with 30 saves, good for third star. The Grande Prairie native was pressed into action Friday night against Prince George when veteran Adam Todd left the game after taking an awkward hit to the head.

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“I just think we got outworked out there, I mean we had a day’s rest, they didn’t, and they just worked harder than us,” said Clark.

The Vipers’ lone stumble in the last week was a 2-1 loss to Salmon Arm on Friday night in the Shuswap.

For Ferner, who coached the Vipers for the 2007-08 and 2009-10 seasons and rejoined the team two games into this season, adjustments are still being made as he becomes more familiar with the team and its players.

“It’s been a learning curve for the players and for myself as well, so it’s early and we’re just trying to identify the type of personnel we have, and put a foundation in place that’s going to give us success. I feel we take a couple steps forward then take a step back, but like I said, this is a tough building and a good hockey team in Trail so we’re excited about the two points today.”

Trail’s offence will be bolstered by the return of high-scoring forward Dallas Calvin this weekend. The former Viper has played just four games due to illness.

Meanwhile, Coughlin scored on a powerplay two minutes into the third period to help the Vipers salvage the tie with the Silverbacks in front of 2,000 fans at Kal Tire Place.

Playing in front of their families for parents’ weekend, the Snakes turned in a much better effort than the one they put forth in Friday’s 2-1 loss at the Shaw Centre.

“It’s nice to at least get a point,” said Vipers’ assistant coach Eric Godard. “We came out strong, but that’s one thing we need to work on is to be more consistent.

“They got challenged (by the coaching staff) and they came out with a better attitude and went out and worked harder. It’s just another stepping stone to getting to a 60-minute game.”

Latina, clicking on a man advantage 1:17 into the game, and Aldworth, wiring one in off the post and past netminder Angus Redmond midway through period one, accounted for the rest of Vernon’s offence.

The ‘Backs got one snipe from ex-Viper Logan Mick just over two minutes after Latina’s goal. The visitors took the lead with second-period markers from Karl El-Mir and Carson Bolduc, on the powerplay.

This weekend was the first time former Viper Ryley Booth, an Armstrong native, faced his former team.

“I was so excited. It’s always fun to play guys you know,” smiled the lanky blueliner.

“We came in a little shaky in the first period but found our stride in the second.”

Salmon Arm head coach Brandon West knew Vernon would come out with more gusto after Friday’s game.

“We knew we were going to have to keep it real simple in the first period and I thought we didn’t give up a whole lot,” said West. “We’re really happy with our weekend, getting three of four (points) from a division rival. That’s very rewarding for our group.”

Coughlin forced overtime by burying his second attempt on Redmond’s doorstep after corralling the rebound off Luke Shiplo’s point shot.

Said Shiplo: “That was big to get momentum back in the third there. We would have liked to come out with a win, but from last night to tonight we played a lot better.”

Redmond recorded 33 stops for Salmon Arm. Aside from Mick’s goal, a five-hole snipe from out wide, netminder Jarrod Schamerhorn was rock-steady in earning third star for the Vipers with 38 saves.

In double-OT, he calmly denied Josh Blanchard on a breakaway, turned aside Ross Heidt on an odd-man rush and robbed Chase Priskie point blank to preserve the tie.

SNAKE BITES: F Riley Brandt comes off suspension for tonight’s game in Prince George. The Spruce Kings fell 5-0 to West Kelowna Warriors Saturday night at Royal LePage Place. Mac Ferner scored his first of the season for the second place Warriors…The Cowichan Valley Capitals upset the Penticton Vees 4-2 Sunday in Duncan. The Vees lost 3-2 in overtime the night before to the Nanaimo Clippers. Penticton, ranked No. 3 in Canada, visits Vernon Friday night. The Vipers entertain the Victoria Grizzlies in a Sunday matinee…Viper grad Connor Jones scored on a powerplay with 38 seconds left Sunday as the Bakersfield Condors shaded the host Alaska Aces 4-3 in ECHL play. Connor’s twin Kellen drew the assist.

 

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