’Backs fall to Vipers, dominate Merritt

The Vipers’ Liam Coughlin shoots like he’s a member of the North Okanagan Trap and Skeet Club

Battle: The Silverbacks’ Damian Chrcek attempts to gain control of the puck from Vernon Vipers’ Anthony Latina during Friday night’s game at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.

Battle: The Silverbacks’ Damian Chrcek attempts to gain control of the puck from Vernon Vipers’ Anthony Latina during Friday night’s game at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.

The Vipers’ Liam Coughlin shoots like he’s a member of the North Okanagan Trap and Skeet Club. Problem is he’s been slightly off the mark in his past few B.C. Hockey League tilts.

The South Boston product hit the bull’s-eye Friday night at Kal Tire Place in Vernon, squeaking a five-hole blast past Angus Redmond on a late third-period rush as the Vernon Vipers shaded the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 3-2 in front of 1,700 fans.

“You get nine shots a game, one of them has to go in, right?” grinned Coughlin.

Friday’s game was déja vu for the Gorillas, who lost 3-2 in overtime to Surrey at South Surrey Arena Wednesday night.

Anthony Latina, with his team-leading fourth goal, jumpstarted Vernon’s attack in the first period after some good hustle by linemate Luke Voltin, who drove to the net and was pokechecked by Angus Redmond (27 saves). The rebound went straight to Latina, 20, who had no problem burying it in a wide open net at 8:24.

The’ Backs equalized at 11:48 as Taro Hirose took the feed from Taylor Maruya, drove up the middle and finished with a slick backhander, top shelf.

Salmon Arm failed to convert on an early 5-on-3 in the second period, but with 1:13 remaining in the second penalty, a cross-checking minor to Trevor Fidler, Chase Priskie threaded a point shot through traffic, going post-and-in behind a screened Jarrod Schamerhorn (21 saves).

Vernon got into penalty trouble again in the second period, sending Salmon Arm on another 5-on-3.

Viper forward Thomas Aldworth, who took the original penalty, came out of the box, took a feed from Fidler and used his wheels to earn a shorthanded breakaway. He beat Redmond with a forehand-backhand deke to make it 2-2 before the ice clean.

“I saw an opportunity when the puck got turned over and Fidler made a good play,” said Aldworth, a Texan who previously played prep school hockey in Massachusetts.

“We were just really focused tonight and we had a lot of energy as well. Our team just wanted it more; we were working really hard all night.”

Aldworth, named first star, nearly had the go-ahead goal in the opening minute of period three, but he flicked his shot off the crossbar after taking a shovel pass from TJ Dumonceux.

The Vipers weathered an early penalty kill early in the third period, then used their speed to smother Salmon Arm. They held the visitors to just one shot before the ‘Backs finally started getting pucks on Schamerhorn in the final minutes.

“We didn’t have the third period we were looking for,” said Salmon Arm head coach Brandon West. “We broke down a couple times and we didn’t get the puck to the net, but we were never out of it.”

Logan Mick, a former Viper who is enjoying a larger role since landing in Salmon Arm this season, said it’s just a matter of time before the ‘Backs put it all together.

“We could have been a lot better tonight, but it’s just one of those things where pucks weren’t going our way,” said Mick, 18.

“Our work ethic is there, we’ve just got to work smarter and develop our systems a little more. Once we do that, we’ll be in good shape.”

Salmon Arm turned it around in a big way Saturday night at the Nicola Valley Arena, where they dominated Merritt in a 6-1 rout.

The Silverbacks host  Victoria at the Shaw Centre on Friday night at 7 and Langley on Sunday at 3 p.m.

-With files from the Vernon Morning Star


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