Overtime is slowly becoming the norm, rather than the exception for the Vernon Vipers.
The Snakes made their 15th visit to extra time Thursday night at Wesbild Centre, falling 3-2 in double OT to the Salmon Arm SilverBacks before a season-high 3,015 fans.
The SilverBacks’ David Killip recorded the winner, deftly corralling a pass from Brett Knowles with his skate before tucking the puck five-hole on netminder Kirby Halcrow at 2:53. Jayson Reardon, a Lumby product, also earned an assist.
Vernon opened the game with intensity, out-skating the Gorillas and registering nine shots before the visitors got a single puck on Halcrow (28 saves) eight minutes into the game.
The Vipers opened the scoring at the 10-minute mark, with Aaron Hadley capitalizing on a quick pass from the corner by Darren Nowick. Max Mowat, working the puck down low from the point, drew the other assist.
A Vernon turnover in the neutral zone helped get the SilverBacks on the board as Jarryd Ten Vaanholt (second star) fed a cross-ice pass to Bryce Gervais, who wristed a shot past Halcrow’s blocker at 17:36 of the first period.
Ten Vaanholt, a West Vancouver product, gave Salmon Arm their first lead early in the second period when he deflected Brandon Mistal’s shot over Halcrow at 1:22.
Vernon responded later in the second frame with Marcus Basara pounced on a loose puck beside netminder Kris Moore (36 saves) during a goalmouth scramble at 13:23. Kyle Murphy started the play by winning a draw back to Bryce Kakoske who fired on net.
Mike Zalewski nearly put Vernon back in front 25 seconds into the third period as he walked up the left wing and wired a heavy shot off the post.
Moore preserved the tie with a point-blank save on Dylan Walchuk’s one-timer with five minutes to play. At the other end, Halcrow sprawled to deny Devin Gannon on his doorstep with two minutes remaining.
The Vipers (21-8-4-7), who outshot Salmon Arm 38-21, are now tied with the Penticton Vees (25-11-2-1) for first in the Interior Conference. Salmon Arm (24-14-1) and Westside Warriors (22-13-2-3) are both four points back.
The Vipers entertain the Vees on New Year’s Day, and will host the Langley Chiefs (22-14-1-5) Thursday at Wesbild.