Linden Hora of the Vernon Vipers (right) beats Jarod Hilderman of the Penticton Vees to a rolling puck in B.C. Hockey League action Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Vipers won 2-1.

Linden Hora of the Vernon Vipers (right) beats Jarod Hilderman of the Penticton Vees to a rolling puck in B.C. Hockey League action Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Vipers won 2-1.

Vipers stop Vees for playoff spot

The Vernon Vipers clinched a playoff berth and finally defeated the Penticton Vees.

Black Press Sports

They clinched a playoff berth and finally defeated the Penticton Vees.

It was a win-win night for the Vernon Vipers Wednesday before 2,411 B.C. Hockey League fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Danny Todoyschuk turned in a stunning 40-save showing and Jagger Williamson and T.J. Dumonceaux supplied snipes as the Snakes edged the Vees 2-1.

Penticton had won the previous five meetings – all close – and had not lost at home since Nov. 29. It was the Vees’ third defeat at the SOEC.

Vipers’ captain Riley Guenther said the victory will jack the Vipers up for the upcoming playoffs.

“It was a big one for our group morale,” said Guenther, a Calgary product. “I thnk we sat back a little too much in the third period, but we were able to close it out and it was a real good road victory.

“I felt the Vees pushed the pace in the third, but we were able to chip pucks out and block shots and get the job done. If we want to make it through this league, this is a team we are probably going to have to go through.”

The Vipers went into Penticton playing .500 hockey of late. Getting motivated to battle the Vees is never hard.

“The difference was we capitalized,” added Guenther. “Every time we have played these guys this year, (goalie Hunter) Miska has stood on his head. We were able to get enough by him tonight to get the win. Danny played great for us and stole the show a bit tonight.”

Todosychuk, who keeps the Vipers loose with his quick wit, has been hampered by injuries the last two seasons. The Vernon product is 11-7 with a sparkling .914 save percentage. He got a piece of a Steen Cooper shot, glove side on a partial breakaway in the third.

“That was a huge, game-saver stop on Cooper,” said Guenther. “He was great all night, especially in the first (17 saves), to keep us in the game.”

The Vipers have 68 points with six games left so should finish second in the Interior Division. The Vees have 81 points and are rated No. 6 in the nation. Vernon hosts the third-place Salmon Arm Silverbacks tonight at 7:00 and entertain the No. 15 Nanaimo Clippers Saturday at 6 p.m.

After a scoreless first period, Williamson was the beneficiary of a Vees turnover right in front of their net. Williamson fanned on his first attempt but hit paydirt on his second, roofing the puck over a prone Miska 60 seconds in for his sixth of the year.

Rookie phenom Tyson Jost scored his team-leading 21st goal five minutes later to level the score. Jost redirected a point shot by Patrick Newell. The shot was stopped, but Jost banged in his own rebound.

Penticton pressed hard for the go-ahead goal in the third, oushooting Vernon 17-6. Todosychuk was in prime form.

Dumonceaux, who should lock up a NCAA scholarship any day now, netted the winner seven seconds into a powerplay. Gabe Bast was off for interference.

“That powerplay for us has been clicking all year once we got (Liam) Finlay on there,” said Guenther. “It was just a quick play right off the face-off. T.J. was able to get a good shot in a good spot in the slot.”

Finlay, traded by the Vees early this season, and Liam Coughlin drew assists. Coughlin, an Edmonton Oiler draft pick, leads the Vipers with 20 goals 60 points. Finlay is next with 22 goals and 56 points

The Vees, who lost 3-0 to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Sunday to close out a road trip, have allowed a measley 2.02 goals per game. They have lost just nine games in regulation.

“I didn’t think we played hard enough,” said Penticton head coach Fred Harbinson. “I thought we turned the puck over way more than necessary and our details were off.  We had no interest in demanding pucks. We played a little better in the third period but it was too late.”

Harbinson was miffed with the Vees’ coverage on the winner.

“There was zero urgency on the situation that cost us the penalty and there was zero urgency on picking up a play that we have seen a 100 times from them on a powerplay,  in all cases by veteran players.”

The Vees look to snap their two-game slide tonight when they host the Island Division regular season pennant champion Clippers. The Silverbacks, who have won the last two meetings with Vernon, and six straight, visit Kal Tire Place after a 6-5 overtime win over the last-place Trail Smoke Eaters before 750 fans Wednesday night at Cominco Arena.

Ross Heidt scored with four seconds left in the first overtime period as the Silverbacks moved two points ahead of the Merritt Centennials and three in front of the West Kelowna Warriors.

Chase Priskie, with a deuce, Nick Hutchison, Phil Middleton and Taylor Maruya also scored for Salmon Arm. Vernon’s Jordan Burns bagged one assist on defence. Jake Lucchini, with 2+1, ex-Viper Dallas Calvin, with 1+2, Kienan Scott and Sheldon Brett replied for the Smokies.

SNAKE BITES: F Michael Roberts and F Mitch Friesen were summoned from Junior B. Roberts has 9-14-23 in 13 games with Revelstoke Grizzlies. Friesen, a former WHL Kamloops Blazer, has 20 goals and 37 points in 30 games with the Kamloops Storm…Nanaimo, led by former Viper coach Mike Vandekamp, have local product Spencer Hewson up front. He has 5-15-20.