It was like seeing your lottery numbers come up and then losing your ticket in the wash.
One moment they were mobbing defenceman Jason Bird and celebrating an overtime victory. A few moments later, they were slowly skating to the dressing room in disbelief.
It was bizzaro all over the place for the Vernon Vipers as they dropped a drama-jammed 4-3 double-overtime thriller to the Victoria Grizzlies before 1,500 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Rookie defenceman Kevin Massy scored at 4:26 of double OT, his first BCHL snipe. With the teams playing three-on-three, a loose puck squirted to a wide open Massy, who buried a wrister into an empty net with Viper goalie Michael Stiliadis guarding the right side.
The Vipers happily face-washed Bird after his point shot beat Victoria goalie Nic Renyard 43 seconds into the first five-minute overtime. While the Vipers celebrated, referee Bryan Bourdon ruled there was incidental contact (Viper centre Michael McNicholas) with Reynard and waved off the snipe.
“We obviously didn’t take advantage of a team that played three games in a two-and-a-half days, but give credit to them, they worked and skated hard,” said Vipers’ associate coach Kris Mallette, who helped put the Snakes through tough skating drills Monday morning to send a message that more effort is required.
The Vipers were without top forwards Demico Hannoun and Mason Blacklock, while the Grizzlies missed all-stars Brandon Egli and Leo Fitzgerald.
“After playing three games in two-and-a-half days, we just wanted to hang on,” said Victoria head coach Bill Bestwick. “We just did not want to give up the extra point in overtime. We were real thrilled to get out of here with the win.
“Both teams were missing guys but we went hard and we better work hard because if we don’t, we don’t stand a chance against real good hockey teams.”
First star Gerry Fitzgerald, who recorded his team-high 14th goal, captain Mark McLellan, with his second of the year, and Storm Wahlrab, with his third, also scored for the Grizzlies.
Victoria, who shaded the Salmon Arm SilverBacks 3-2 Saturday night, improved to 11-6-2-1 for second spot in the Island Division.
Second star Liam Coughlin found fifth gear and scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season to spark the Vipers. The Boston product opened the offence 17 seconds in on a shot which bounced off Reynard’s back leg.
Linemates McNicholas and Dexter Dancs drew assists.
“I think he’s (Couglin) paying attention more to his positioning and he’s getting more chances,” said Mallette. “There’s more in the tank for him. He has a lot of potential.”
Fitzgerald levelled things at 1-1 as he cruised to the mid-slot and converted on a hard backhand at 8:45 of the fast-paced, hard-hitting first period.
Dancs put Vernon ahead on a backhander along the ice, in tight, after some gorgeous feeds by Coughlin and McNicholas, on a powerplay at 8:07 of the second period. McLellan, who replaced Myles Fitzgerald on Victoria’s top line after Fitzgerald tweaked his back late in the first, equalized 37 seconds later into a wide open net after some slick passing around the horn by Jesse Schwartz and Mitch Meek.
The Grizz moved in front three minutes later when Wahlrab connected after a sloppy clearing pass up the middle. Alex Adams and Jacob Kearley drew assists.
The Snakes tied it with 1:51 left in the second when Coughlin’s shot struck Kearly in front and rolled past Reynard. Colton Sparrow had smoothly carried the puck deep for the first assist, while TJ Dumonceau earned the secondary assist.
The Vipers went to 10-6-1-4, good for a share of second place with the Merritt Centennials, one point back of the West Kelowna Warriors, 5-1 losers to the visiting last-place Trail Smoke Eaters Saturday night.
Earlier Sunday, the Vipers traded F Josh Betinol to the Calgary Mustangs of the AJHL for F Chase McMurphy. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound McMurphy amassed 21 goals and 50 points with the Mustangs last year, his third in the AJHL. He played the first six games this season for the Tri-City Storm of the USHL, earning one assist.
Hannoun, meanwhile, pocketed one assist as Canada West clipped Switzerland 4-3 Monday in their World Junior A Hockey Challenge opener in Yarmouth, N.S.
Vernon’s Alex Gillies, of the SilverBacks, netted the winner at 1:07 of the third period. Dylan Hollman, of the Spruce Grove Saints, bagged two goals for Team West, who faced the Czech Republic Tuesday.