Vipers entertain SilverBacks

The Vernon Vipers need one point. The Salmon Arm SilverBacks can’t afford a loss.

Somebody’s plans will go south tonight as the Snakes entertain the SilverBacks in B.C. Hockey League action at Kal Tire Place.

Vernon welcomes back forward Mason Blacklock off injured reserve, but lose centre Liam Coughlin to suspension (two games for check from behind penalty Saturday night versus West Kelowna Warriors).

“Blackie will play this weekend,” said Viper head coach Jason Williamson. “Anytime you can add an elite player like him, your team gets deeper. It will take him some time to get back to speed, but his shot is still there and he will help us.”

A check from behind penalty on winger Colton Sparrow from Saturday was reversed.

Williamson will use the 6-foot-2 Blacklock on a few different lines since Vernon will be one player short tonight. Blacklock, a White Rock product, has 18 goals and 30 points in 24 games. He has been out more than a month with knee issues.

Forward Demico Hannoun, who suffered back spasms last Wednesday night in Trail, will rest this weekend. The Vipers (28-16-4-6) are riding a three-game win streak with four games left. Vernon hosts the Penticton Vees Saturday night.

The SilverBacks, meanwhile, just got Vernon product Alex Gillies off IR, but will be without all-star goalie Adam Clark and veteran d-man Mitch Ferguson. They are five points behind the fourth-place Merritt Centennials.

Salmon Arm has lost five straight, bowing 5-1 to the Surrey Eagles and 7-1 to the Coquitlam Express on a road trip last weekend.

“The tomorrows are running out real quick for us,” said SilverBack head coach Troy Mick. “Obviously, we’re a very streaky team...and obviously we need to get on a (winning) streak here.”

Salmon Arm won five in a row from Jan. 18-Feb. 1 so Mick knows his team has the moxy to pull off a string of wins.

“We’ve done it before so of course we can. You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to realize this is the biggest weekend of the year for our hockey club. We need to play for each other and not try to do too much.”

The SilverBacks (25-22-1-5) host the Cents Saturday night. West Kelowna, four points ahead of the third-place Vipers, lost 6-3 to Penticton Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place. The first-place Vees are two points in front of the Warriors.



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