A late flurry by the Powell River Kings failed to derail the Vernon Vipers, who held on for a 4-3 B.C. Hockey League win in front of 744 fans Friday night at Hap Parker Arena.
With the Snakes ahead 3-1, the teams combined for a trio of goals in the final 96 seconds, two by the Kings, who pulled netminder Brett Magnus for the extra attacker.
Adam Tracey (1st goal), squeaking a high shot from the slot under third star Jarrod Schamerhorn’s arm, cut the lead to one. It was his first of the season. Thomas Aldworth (20th goal), on a feed from first star Liam Coughlin, had his wrister bounce up and over Magnus just seven seconds later.
Powell River’s Austin Kamer, with his third, completed the offence by scoring directly off a faceoff with 38 seconds to play.
“That’s not really how you draw it up in the game-plan, but give them credit that they didn’t quit,” said Vipers’ head coach Mark Ferner. “We’ve got to be a lot more responsible in our own end.”
Second star Jacob Pritchard (18th) opened the scoring for Powell River on a first-period powerplay. With the Kings enjoying some sustained pressure on the man advantage, he walked walked the blueline and buried a nice top-shelf snipe.
In his first game back after missing three weeks to injury, captain Riley Guenther recorded his first of the season when his shot from left point took a deflection off a Powell River defender in the second period.
“It’s a monkey off his back for sure,” said Vipers’ assistant coach Kevin Kraus. “It was good for the team and the guys were happy for him.”
Coughlin (11th) gave Vernon the lead 4:23 into period three when he took a feed from Liam Finlay down low and stuffed one past Magnus.
Trevor Fidler, outworking a handful of Kings in driving to the net to collected his eighth of the year.
“It was a bit of a slow start, but eventually we got going,” said Kraus.
Schamerhorn finished with 33 saves for his 12th win. Magnus made 27 stops.
The win keeps Vernon (19-8-1-2) four points ahead of the West Kelowna Warriors (16-10-0-5) for second place in the Interior Division. The Kings, who have a pair of players (d-man Carmine Buono and forward Kurt Keats) competing with Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge, dipped to 14-9-0-7.
The Snakes continued a three-game coastal swing Saturday against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (15-11-1-2) at Wayerhaeuser Arena.
The road trip ends today with a matinee against Mike Vandekamp’s Nanaimo Clippers (22-10-0-1) at Frank Crane Arena.
“They’re (Nanaimo) an older team,” said Kraus. “Their only 17-year-old is a backup goalie. They’re a team Vandy is trying to gear up for a championship. It’s going to be tough going in on the back end of a 3-in-3.”
The Clippers rallied with four unanswered third-period goals to ground the Bulldogs 5-2 in their Friday-night tilt. Nicolas Carrier and Brendan Taylor, each with a deuce, paced the second-overall shipmen.
In other Interior action Friday, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks drew the league-leading Penticton Vees 2-2, the Merritt Centennials shaded the Prince George Spruce Kings 3-2 in overtime, and West Kelowna bounced the Trail Smoke Eaters 4-3 in OT.
SNAKE BITES: Injured netminder Danny Todosychuk did not travel with the Vipers to the coast. Instead, they called up Gunnar Neilson from Abbotsford’s Yale Hockey Academy for backup duty…Former Viper twins Connor and Kellen Jones were recalled by the AHL Oklahoma City Barons from the ECHL Bakersfield Condors Friday. Connor leads the Condors, and all ECHL rookies, with 25 points (9G, 16A) in 25 games. Kellen is second on the Condors with 6-17-23 in 25 games. The Barons hosted the Grand Rapids Griffins Saturday night.