Tanner Johnson’s first two B.C. Hockey League goals proved to be big ones for the Langley Rivermen.
A midseason call-up from his hometown KIJHL Castlegar Rebels, Johnson scored once in regulation and added the overtime winner as Langley upended the Vernon Vipers 3-2 Saturday night at Wesbild Centre.
The Snakes went to work in the first period, out-hustling the Rivermen to earn a 2-0 lead at the break on goals by Brett Corkey and Craig Martin.
Johnson leaned into a blast from the top of the circle to cut the lead in half five minutes into the second period. Matt Ustaski batted a rebound out of midair over netminder Austin Smith’s shoulder for the equalizer during a second-period man advantage.
The Vipers pressed to retake the lead with a solid third-period effort, but Langley keeper James Barr (32 saves) came up with a couple timely saves late in the game to send it to OT. Smith was steady in recording 23 saves for the Snakes.
With the 22-23-2-4 Salmon Arm SilverBacks idle Saturday night, Vernon (17-24-1-9) moved to within six points of the fourth and final Interior Division playoff spot. The ‘Backs wrap up the regular season on the road, and need to win two of their remaining five games to eliminate Vernon from postseason contention.
The Vipers are in West Kelowna Tuesday night to take on the Warriors at Royal LePage Place.
Check out Wednesday sports in the Morning Star for a recap of Saturday’s action.