Merritt, BC: The Vernon Vipers had 6 different goal scorers and Reilly Herbst turned aside 34 of 37 as they downed the Merritt Centennials 6-3.
A pretty tentative start in the first period without many scoring chances. The Vipers had a simple approach of getting pucks in and trying to cause turnovers. Special teams was the difference in the period as the Cents found themselves on a 5 on 3 powerplay and Rylan Van Unen snapped a shot from the right circle to make it 1-0. With the powerplay continuing 5 on 4, Ben Ward jumped on a puck in the slot to make it 2-0. The Vipers killed off the remainder of the powerplay and generated a good chance of their own, but Ryan Winter made an outstanding save off of Ben Helgeson to keep it 2-0. The Vipers drew a penalty on the play and following a great save from Herbst, Connor Marritt went the other way and wired a wrister top corner to make it 2-1. Late in the period Herbst again made a big save stopping Rylan Van Unen on a break away to keep the game 2-1 after 1 period.
The Vipers were forced into an early penalty kill and were able to effectively kill it off. The Cents increased their lead as Jerzy Orchard banked in a loose puck off the arm of Herbst to make it 3-1. Thirty seconds later Max Bulawka potted home a rebound following a Connor Marritt shot to make it 3-2. Following a successful penalty kill, Ryan Shostak was sprung on a breakaway and ripped a shot low to Ryan Winter’s blocker to tie the game up at 3. It was the Vipers turn on the powerplay minutes later and some nice passing set up Ben Helgeson for a tap in on the far post to give Vernon their first lead of the night. Late in the period Hunter Donohoe walked into a slapper from the left circle that made its way through Winter to make it 5-3 for the Vipers after 2.
In the third, the Vipers tightened up defensively. They were able to add another midway through as a Nick Kent point shot got through a maze of bodies for his first BCHL goal to make it 6-3. That’s the way this one would end.
The Vipers return home Friday to face the Nanaimo Clippers at 7pm.