The Merritt Centennials started out strong, but the Vernon Vipers awoke and didn’t look back as they scored 5 unanswered en route to a 6-3 Cents loss.
The Tuesday night affair started out a little on the sleepy side as neither team found much purchase through the first 10 minutes. It wasn’t until a pair of penalties to the Vipers that the Cents were able to open the scoring. Rylan Van Unen sniped top corner hockey to make it 1-0 with plenty of time remaining on the powerplay, and Ben Ward was able to tally on the powerplay as well as the Cents were able to shootout to a quick 2-0 lead. However, the Vipers were no slouches on their extra man advantage as Rylan Van Unen went off for slashing and the Vipers Captain Connor Marritt was able to tally to make it 2-1. That would be the score heading into the second period. Shots after 1 were 14-10 Cents.
In the second period, the Cents had a solid start, but then things turned sour. Jerzy Orchard scored on a nifty wraparound, where he was denied on one side, but got a backhand to go on the other to make it 3-1. However, that awoke the Vipers and they’d score on the ensuing shift, and 4 unanswered. Max Bulawka, Ryan Shostak, Ben Helgeson, and Hunter Donohoe would all score in the 2nd period for the Vipers to know the Centennials back a peg. Shots after 2 were 30-24 Vipers.
The final frame saw the Cents and Vipers skate at an even rate, but Nathan Kent would add his first in the BCHL to make it 6-3 Vernon. Ryan Winter stopped 39/45 shots in the losing effort. Final Shots 45-36 Vernon.
After the game, Assistant Coach Paul Barnes said the Cents seemed to lose their way after the 3rd goal.
“We kind of took our foot off the pedal after the third goal, and let the Vipers come back in the game. We need to keep pushing at those points and keep the pressure on.”
The Centennials will look to rebound on the road against the Prince George Spruce Kings on Friday night.