No luck of the Irish was needed for the Vernon Vipers on St. Patrick’s Day.
The Vipers moved into a tie for fifth place in the B.C. Hockey League’s Interior Conference with a 6-1 romp over the Trail Smoke Eaters Friday, March 17, at Kal Tire Place.
The two teams play again in Vernon’s final regular-season home game Saturday at 6 p.m. at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon has won four in a row, and five of its last six encounters, while Friday’s defeat snapped a modest two-game Trail winning streak.
Vernon’s win, combined with Prince George’s 4-3 overtime loss at home to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, leaves the Vipers and Spruce Kings tied with 56 points. Both teams have 25 wins and both are one point behind the fourth-place West Kelowna Warriors, and one point ahead of the seventh-seeded Wenatchee Wild as the Interior teams battle for playoff positioning.
Salmon Arm is third, three points ahead of West Kelowna.
The Wild defeated the Merritt Centennials 7-4 Friday, while West Kelowna dropped a 6-3 decision at home to the Cranbrook Bucks. Cranbrook will finish second and play the seventh-place team in the first round of the playoffs.
The conference and regular-season champion Penticton Vees will play Trail in the opening round.
The Smoke Eaters’ Josh Schenk opened the scoring in front of 2,016 fans in Vernon Friday at 11:44 of the opening period. Vernon would score the next six, started by Hank Cleaves, on a first-period powerplay, at 13:32.
Luke Pakulak had two goals and two assists for the Vipers, who led 4-1 after 40 minutes. Reagan Milburn, Isaac Tremblay and Griffen Barr had the other Vernon markers.
Roan Clarke made 20 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Snakes, while Teagan Kendrick stopped 29 shots for the Smokies.