The Vernon Vipers put together their first offensive outburst of the pre-season Friday night as they defeated the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 5-2 at Kal Tire Place.
It’s the Vipers’ first win since the start of the BC Hockey League’s Okanagan Cup. The team’s five tallies against Salmon Arm outnumbered their combined goals through the first four games of the pre-season tournament.
An early powerplay led to an early lead for the Vipers as JoJo Tanaka-Campbell knocked in his first goal of the tournament 2:44 into the game, with assists from Cameron MacDonald and Nicholas Remissong.
MacDonald then added a powerplay goal of his own at the midway point of the first period, and two successful penalty kills kept the Vipers’ lead at 2-0 after one.
The teams traded goals in the second, with Vipers winger Ethan Mercer and Backs forward Nathan Morgan each getting on the board in a five-minute span. The Vipers took over in terms of momentum and scoring chances, with shots finishing 15-6 in favour of the home side.
The Vipers extended their lead early in the third as Mercer set up Jeremy Rainville for a goal 90 seconds in. Simon Tassy pulled Salmon Arm closer with a powerplay goal six minutes later.
The Snakes had a big penalty kill to keep the score 4-2 before MacDonald struck again on the powerplay for his second of the night, putting the game out of reach.
Roan Clarke finished the game with 23 saves on 25 shots for his first BCHL win. Backs goalie Riley Kohonick had a busier night, stopping 33 of the 38 shots he faced.
With the win, the Vipers pulled even with the Silverbacks in the Okanagan Cup standings; both teams now have two points and a 1-4 record. They trail the undefeated Penticton Vees, and the 3-3-1 West Kelowna Warriors.
One team will pull ahead of the other tonight as the Vipers and Back face off again, this time at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m.