On the bright side, the Vernon Vipers have points in each of their four encounters with the Salmon Arm SilverBacks.
The reality is the last three have been overtime losses, including Friday night’s 2-1 decision in double-OT at Wesbild Centre.
The 3-7-0-5 Snakes have dropped a league-high five games in extra time, which has them tied with the Gorillas (5-9-0-1) for last place in the B.C. Hockey League’s Interior Division.
They hosted the 10-3-1-1 Chilliwack Chiefs Saturday night.
“Right now, unfortunately, that’s how the ball is rolling for us,” said Vipers’ assistant coach Jason Read. “It’s hard to break that cycle, but you’ve just got to stick with it, and stick together.
“It’s bound to come out, it’s a question of when.”
SilverBacks’ forward Carter Lukenda, collecting his third goal of the season, provided winner in front of 1,800 fans at 4:23. With the play wide open at 3-on-3, Lukenda buried the rebound off a goal-mouth scramble in front of third star netminder Austin Smith (31 saves).
Shortly before, Salmon Arm tender Adam Clark (second star, 37 saves) made a pair of timely stops, denying Mitch Van Teeling on a backhand, and Pearce Eviston on a wraparound.
Clark also stuffed Viper rookie Logan Mick twice on backhand attempts in regulation, and Adam Tambellini on a breakaway feed from Mick.
For a change, it wasn’t the Vipers’ special teams that let them down Friday night. The powerplay accounted for their lone goal, and their penalty kill withstood four SilverBack man advantages.
Tambellini (7th goal) snapped a quick shot from the high slot after a quick pass from Eviston at the sidewall six minutes into the first period.
The man advantage was a major, the result of a dangerous hit from behind by Salmon Arm forward Alex Gillies on Viper d-man Michael Statchuk into the sidewall at 2:44. Gillies, a Vernon product not normally known for his aggressive play, earned a two-game suspension for the incident.
Statchuk needed help off the ice, but returned to action later.
Brandon Mistal (3rd) responded for the ‘Backs in the second frame, tucking the rebound off a Shane Hanna point blast under a sprawling Smith at the nine-minute mark.
Vernon’s Harlan Orr was a call-up from the Junior B North Okanagan Knights the last time Salmon Arm grounded Vernon in OT. He was all the more excited for a win in his hometown now that he is full-time with the ‘Backs.
“It’s pretty cool,” smiled Orr, who racked up 14 points in just six games with North Okanagan. “I had some people out watching me today and obviously our team needed the win because we were on a slide there for a bit. It feels really good for the whole team.”
SilverBack head coach Scott Robinson has Orr playing in a variety of roles, including some time on the man advantage.
“I’m happy to get getting lots of time on the powerplay, and in important situations,” said Orr. “It’s good to know they have faith in me and hopefully I can start bagging some more goals.”
Added Robinson: “Harlan, right from day one, has competed for us. He’s got an offensive flair that not all kids have, and that’s going to come out later on. He’s a top-six guy in the future for us.”
Regarding the win, Robinson added: “Anybody could have won that, but our goalie made some great saves, especially in overtime.
“We did a lot of good things systems-wise, and we were a lot more committed to playing our style.”
Vernon cranked up the intensity in the final 10 minutes, but couldn’t solve Clark. Defenceman Marc Hetnik said it was a missed opportunity against another struggling team.
“Our defence did a pretty good job of letting in only one goal, but we’ve got to score more than one goal a game, especially against a team like that who isn’t doing too well.”