Morning Star Staff
Nobody likes overtime more than the Langley Rivermen.
The B.C. Hockey League’s top team won another showdown Friday night by shading the Vernon Vipers 2-1 in double overtime before 1,025 fans at the Langley Events Centre.
The Rivermen, who visited the Vipers Saturday night, lead the league at 10-5 in overtime. Vernon is 3-6.
The point was huge for the Vipers since the Merritt Centennials lost 6-2 to the West Kelowna Warriors. Vernon was third in the Interior Conference going into Saturday action, four points ahead of the Salmon Arm SilverBacks and five in front of the Cents. The top-four move to the playoffs.
The first-place Penticton Vees finally solved the SilverBacks 3-2 before 2,100 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
After their home date with Langley, the Vipers have seven games left, including a pair with last-place Trail Smoke Eaters.
Minnesota product Gage Torrel beat second star Austin Smith 61 seconds into the second OT as Langley improved to 31-12-2-5, tied with the Powell River Kings for first overall in the 16-team loop.
The Rivermen had three forwards out on the winning goal, while the Vipers countered with d-man Josh Bryan and forwards TJ Dumonceaux and Logan Mick.
“They did a cycle 20 seconds after the faceoff and found the puck,” said Viper head coach Jason Williamson. “It was a turn-around wrister that went five-hole. Smitty would probably like that one back.”
Wenatchee’s Austin Azurdia gave Langley the lead with 32 seconds left in the first period with Bryan in the box for boarding.
Demico Hannoun, on a 2-on-1 with Michael McNicholas, equalized on a beauty backhander past Brock Crossthwaite with 5:28 to go in the third period.
The Vipers had some quality chances to win it late with Dexter Dancs going hard to the net and being denied.
Langley has a monster lineup, but the Vipers’ dee core played them tough.
“They are definitely the biggest team we’ve played all season and we matched them well,” said Viper associate coach Kris Mallette, on the KISS-FM post-game show. “We’re going to score in bunches one of the these nights, but kudos to their goalie. He made some saves, that on other nights, might have gone in.”
Mallette figured the game-plan for Saturday night was basic.
“We have to come out, move our feet and get pucks to the net and hopefully bounce a few in.”
SNAKE BITES: Play-by-play man Graham Turnbull and his fiancée, Kandace King, had a baby boy Thursday night (named Carson) so Todd Miller worked the Friday night broadcast…Zach Dyment of the North Okanagan Knights will back up Smith tonight. Gunnar Neilsen of Abbotsford Midget Quad was the spare tender in Langley with Danny Todyschuk on IR…The Vipers visit the Vees Friday night…In additon to local forwards Blaine Caton and Jagger Williamson, Vernon has signed F Branden Wagner, captain and all-time leading scorer of the first-place B.C. Major Midget League Okanagan Rockets (27-4-1) for next season.