Saturday night was the type of game that from a fans perspective was an entertaining affair, but from a coaches standpoint at times it was maddening. Both teams were able to generate quality offensive chances and end to end rushes, but in their own ends were at times prone to mistakes. At the end of the day it was the Vipers play 5 on 5 that propelled them to a 5-3 victory over the Merritt Centennials.
For the first time in 5 games, the Vipers were able to score the games first goal as the Cents had trouble clearing the puck from the slot and that enabled Thomas Aldworth to snap a shot past Anthony Pupplo to give the Vipers a 1-0 lead after 1 period.
The Vipers found themselves in penalty trouble in the second period as at one point they were given 5 straight minor penalties. The Cents would make them pay as John Schiavo re-directed a backdoor slap pass to knot the game up at 1. The Cents would get the lead later on in the period, once again on a powerplay as James Neil would cap off a pass from below the red line to make it 2-1. The puck had exited the net quickly and there was doubt whether or not the puck hit the crossbar, but in the end the right call was made and the Cents had their first lead of the night. The game started to open up five on five and Liam Coughlin would get the game tied with a tap in after a beautiful effort from Luke Shiplo. Less than two minutes later Liam Finlay would score his first as a Viper on a well executed 2 on 1 rush. The two Viper goals coming in the final 4 minutes of the period to give them a 3-2 lead after 2.
In the third period, it was the Vipers turn on the powerplay and it would capitalize as TJ Dumonceaux would get open in the high slot and rifle a wrister thru Pupplo to increase the Viper lead to 4-2. On their next powerplay Mitch Meek would score his first goal as a Viper by sneaking down the right side and ripping one past Pupplo to make it 5-2. The Vipers thought they made it 6-2 on a very similar play to the Neil goal where it appeared the puck may have hit the back bar and came out, but play continued and Nick Fidanza would steal a puck in the Vernon zone and snap it past Schamerhorn to make it 5-3. The Vipers would limit the Centennials opportunities in the final 2 minutes and take the game 5-3.
Here is the scoring summary:
Vernon Vipers - Thomas Aldworth (9) - (Dumonceaux, J. Coughlin) - 15:22
Merritt Centennials - John Schiavo (11) - (PP) - (Teves, Poulsen) - 5:29
Merritt Centennials - James Neil (8) - (PP) - (Cuglietta, Foley) - 14:13
Vernon Vipers - Liam Coughlin (5) - (Shiplo, Meek) - 16:33
Vernon Vipers - Liam Finlay (2) - (J. Coughlin, Williamson) - 18:23
Vernon Vipers - TJ Dumonceaux (2) - (PP) - (Finlay, Shiplo) - 11:58
Vernon Vipers - Mitch Meek (2) - (PP) - (Williamson, Latina) - 15:29
Merritt Centennials - Nick Fidanza (2) - (unassisted) - 17:05
Shots - Merritt 31 Vernon 33
Powerplays - Merritt 2 for 8 Vernon 2 for 3
A couple of things to mention is the effectiveness of the Viper powerplay. They didn't get many chances, but when they did they moved the puck around nicely and made the most of those opportunities. Also the inclusion of Liam Finlay in the lineup really seemed to reinvigorate Jagger Williamson and Luke Voltin. They were by far the best line for the Vipers and really seemed to play solid in all three zone. Final talking point is the play of Luke Shiplo, who is know as a defenseman with offensive upside and he showed that a number of times and that showed with his two assists.
Next up for the Vipers is a Wednesday night home game against the Trail Smoke Eaters. Puck drop is 7pm from KTP