The Vernon Vipers had chances aplenty, but showed very little finish from in close Saturday night at Wesbild Centre.
When Vernon did get pucks on net, Salmon Arm SilverBack keeper Adam Clark put his 6-foot-5 frame to good use, recording 38 saves to backstop his team to a 3-2 overtime win.
Josh Bowles buried the winner past Austin Smith off a rebound 1:53 into 4-on-4 play in front of 1,700 B.C. Hockey League fans.
“To get a win out of here is just really good for this group, but we’ve got so much further to go,” said newly hired SilverBack head coach Scott Robinson.
“We don’t generate a lot of chances, but our goaltending has been excellent and kept us around in the game.”
Added Clark, a 19-year-old Sherwood Park, Alta. product: “There’s not a much better feeling than coming into a barn like this, with a great atmosphere, and taking two points.
“That’s what you sign up for. You just want to get in there and give your team a chance every night.”
The Vipers (1-1-0-2) leapt out to an early lead on a bizarre goal by rookie centre Michael Roberts, a Vernon native. On a faceoff to Clark’s right, Roberts and the Salmon Arm pivot chipped the puck up in the air, arcing it directly over Clark’s shoulder and into the back of the net at 3:39.
The Snakes had a couple scary moments in the opening period, the first when forward Colton Sparrow went down with a suspected leg injury, and needed help off the ice. Later on, defenceman Kevin Guiltinan took a hard hit in front of the penalty box and left the ice on rubber legs. Both players returned later in the period.
Roberts nearly had his second goal on a wide open net, but clipped the post on a back-door feed from Brett Corkey with two minutes to play. It was one of many chances where Vernon head coach Jason Williamson felt his team should have converted.
“I don’t think we were hungry enough to score goals,” said Williamson. “If you’re in the slot, you’ve got to bear down. Too many times we were just nonchalant there.
“Their goalie was good, but we can’t let one player beat us. We’ve got to be going to the net and going to the net hard and making his job harder.”
The 1-3 SilverBacks made the most of their limited chances in the second period. With Sparrow and Vernon d-man Geoff Crisfield serving minors, Salmon Arm went to work on the 5-on-3.
Troy Petrick made a slick deflection from the hash marks on a point shot to beat Smith (20 saves) blocker side at 12:46.
The ‘Backs went up 2-1 on a buzzer beater after Vernon failed to clear their zone. Jeff Kennedy snuck a low shot, just inside the post.
Vernon power forward Aaron Hadley forced OT on a great solo effort. The 19-year-old Castlegar native wheeled up the left wing, cut across the middle and caught Clark going the wrong way for his third of the season,
Pearce Eviston and Brett Corkey drew the assists at 13:02.
Hadley was annoyed the Vipers let the game get away, especially when they generated so many shots.
“We started with a good effort, but you’ve got to play a 60-minute game and we only played 50 and it cost us two points,” said Hadley.
“The young guys will gain confidence as the season goes, but for right now we just need to bear down on our chances. We have to play every game like they’re a top team in the league and we did not do that tonight.”
The Snakes have just one game this weekend, a Saturday-night encounter with the 1-3 Trail Smoke Eaters at Wesbild.
SNAKE BITES: The SilverBacks feature a pair of North Okanagan players: second-year forward Alex Gillies and Lumby’s Dylan Bowen, a d-man…Vernon’s Tyler Steel recorded 29 stops as the Merritt Centennials pummelled the Smokies 6-2 Saturday night at Nicola Valley Arena. Armstrong’s Dylan Chanter earned an assist for the Cents…Vernon’s Curtis Lazar has been named an alternate captain with the Edmonton Oil Kings. The second-year F will wear an A for home games.