The Vipers had their home opener spoiled by the Wenatchee Wild, and tonight at the NVMA they did the same to the Merritt Centennials.
Despite a good crowd in the building to cheer on the hometown side for the first game of the season, the Centennials once again couldn’t pull out a full 60 minute effort.
Things started great when newly minted Captain Nick Wicks got the party started just over 5 minutes into the game with his first goal of the season, and the Cents first goal on the powerplay. The assists went to the twin brothers Rylan and Mike Van Unen. The Vipers were on their heels early, but managed to get a break on the counter-attack. Michael Young found a juicy, but uncharacteristic rebound from Austin Roden and potted that to tie the game 1-1. The Vipers followed the same formula 5 minutes later and Jesse Landsdell was the beneficiary of another big rebound to take the lead for the snakes 2-1. 3 minutes later the Captain arrived again to tie the game, finding a loose puck in front and potting it in with the assist going to Nic Granowicz.
For the second game in a row, the Centennials had a strong first period, but in the middle frame it was a much tighter checking affair. The teams managed to stay out of the box for the most part, but just over halfway through the period the Vipers pulled ahead with a quick snipe from Nicholas Wildgoose to regain the lead 3-2.
In the final frame, things started to unravel for the Centennials and it seemed to be one step forward, two steps back. Just when the Centennials were about to go on the powerplay, they took a penalty to go to 4-on-4 hockey. In the third, Head Coach Joe Martin started to throw the lines in a blender and it was the young guns that made the impression. However, Vernon was the only team that made an impression on the scoreboard adding 2 to pull away and spoil the opener 5-2.
After the game, Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin wasn’t too high on his own teams effort.
“I think it takes a full team. And we’re getting effort from the top of the line up, and from the bottom, but there’s a lot of players in the middle that need to start showing up.”
The Centennials will look to regroup and show up as a full team for the full 60 when they take on the Surrey Eagles on Tuesday night at the NVMA.