The effort level on Friday and Saturday for the Vernon Vipers was much better than the weekend prior. Unfortunately it only resulted in two points. The Vipers fell 4-0 in Merritt on Friday then pulled off a 2-1 win over Cowichan.
We'll start with the Merritt game that saw the Vipers drastically outshoot and outchance the Cents, but couldn't get anything by Jonah Imoo or Anthony Pupplo. The Cents opened the scoring as Braden Fuller tapped home a loose puck off a rebound from Jarrod Schamerhorn and it would finish 1-0.
The Vipers continued to press and get chances in the middle period, but against the flow of momentum off a neutral zone turnover, James Neil rifled home a shot from the slot to make it 2-0 Merritt. Less than 5 minutes later Gavin Gould would convert on the PP to make it 3-0 Cents through 40 minutes. At the tail end of the period however, the Cents would be dealt a blow as Jonah Imoo would stretch out to make a save and come up lame. He would leave the game with a lower body injury and would not return. Anthony Pupplo would come in the rest of the way.
Merritt started the third period on the PP and it didn't take long as John Schiavo found some open space in the circle and wired a hard wrist shot over the glove of Schamerhorn making it 4-0. Thats all the scoring Merritt would need as Pupplo would shut the door the rest of the way for a 4-0 final score.
Here is the scoring summary:
Merritt Centennials - Braden Fuller (2) - (Oakes, Gould) - 5:50
Merritt Centennials - James Neil (2) - (Gould, Teves) - 11:46
Merritt Centennials - Gavin Gould (2) - (PP) - (Teves, Schiavo) - 16:02
Merritt Centennials - John Schiavo (5) - (PP) - (Ederer, Teves) - 0:52
Shots - Vernon 38 Merritt 22
Powerplays - Vernon 0 for 4 Merritt 2 for 4
It was a quick turnaround for the Vipers as they would head home to play a struggling Cowichan Capitals team. The Caps had also lost the night before and both teams were looking to turn their luck around. Overall it was a very balanced game. Once again I thought the Vipers compete level was there and the execution arrived as well early in the game.
The Vipers pushed the pace early in the game testing the resolve of the Capital defenders and they managed to withstand the pressure through the opening minutes, but eventually the levees broke and Anthony Latina was able to bust down the right wing and put home his own rebound to end a 73 minutes goalless drought. The Vipers continued to play a solid well balanced period to lead 1-0 after 1.
The Capitals came out firing in the second thanks to a couple of early powerplays. The Caps didn't score with the man advantage, but they sure gained confidence and momentum testing Jarrod Schamerhorn 17 times in the period. The Vipers however were able to mount a comeback that resulted in a goal as Branden Wagner was able to bang home a loose puck to make it 2-0. Things then got a little heated after the whistle late in the period as a couple of scraps broke out with Thomas Aldworth pairing up with Thomas Gobeil to drop the gloves, then Linden Hora giving up 7 inches in a scrap with Charlie Pelnik. Both Vipers held their own which is impressive considering neither player is known for their fighting skills.
I thought Vernon played a very smart third period up by 2 goals. They killed off a two penalties and hunkered down with smart plays in their own end. They didn't appear to nervous with the lead which is always a positive. Things got interesting late in regulation as Jesse Neher was finally able to flip a puck past Schamerhorn in the final 2 minutes. The Vipers won a couple of big defensive zone faceoffs and killed the clock to skate away with a big 2-1 victory.
Here is the scoring summary:
Vernon Vipers - Anthony Latina (3) - (Fidler, J. Coughlin) - 5:52
Vernon Vipers - Branden Wagner (1) - (Brandt, Caton) - 14:44
Cowichan Valley - Jesse Neher (2) - (Horsman, Gelsinger) - 18:47
Shots - Cowichan Valley 35 Vernon 38
Powerplays - Cowichan Valley 0 for 4 Vernon 0 for 4
The Vipers will now get a few days off before getting back on the ice against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Friday night at KTP. That game will be on KISSFM starting at 6:45!