Vernon Viper Patrick McGillis tries to get the puck past the Merritt Centennials goalie Lino Chimienti with Billy Marshall close behind in BCHL action at Wesbild Centre Friday night.

Vernon Viper Patrick McGillis tries to get the puck past the Merritt Centennials goalie Lino Chimienti with Billy Marshall close behind in BCHL action at Wesbild Centre Friday night.

Vernon Vipers blank Merritt Centennials

Kirby Halcrow turned in a 41-save performance as the Vernon Vipers blanked the Merritt Centennials 4-0 Friday night at Wesbild Centre.

If they keep playing like that, the Vernon Vipers might just land themselves a spot in the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.

Netminder Kirby Halcrow turned in a workhorse 41-save performance for his first shutout of the season as the Snakes blanked the Merritt Centennials 4-0 Friday night at Wesbild Centre.

The win improves the Vipers to 21-20-1-2, fifth in the Interior Conference. They trail the Chilliwack Chiefs (24-18-1-2) by four points for the final playoff spot. Chilliwack fell 5-1 to the league-leading Penticton Vees Friday night.

John Knisley made an instant impact in his return to the Vernon lineup after missing the last 13 games with a shoulder injury. After batting a puck out of midair at netminder Lino Chimienti, Knisley lofted the rebound over the Merritt goalie for the opening goal at 6:45 of the first period. Ben Gamache and Marc Hetnik drew assists.

Vernon made it 2-0 when Aaron Hadley redirected defenceman Brett Corkey’s powerplay point shot and Adam Tambellini was on the doorstep to bury the rebound into the open net.

Mike Zalewski, scoring a man advantage goal early in the third period, and Jedd Soleway, roofing a backhander on a play set up by call-up Eric Chore, completed the scoring.

Check out the sports section in Sunday’s Morning Star for a full recap of Friday’s game.