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Vipers Earn Tie in Merritt

A determined effort and Austin Smith's goaltending gained the Vipers a single point in Merritt in an exciting 2-2 tie.

 

“I thought we had more of the play tonight, and probably deserved both points,” said Jason Williamson. At least one stat supports that contention – the Vipers created 25 scoring chances to the Centennials’ 21.

 

The game was a seesaw affair, with the Vipers setting the tone in the opening 10 minutes and the Centennials recovering as they got their forecheck going in the second half of the period. The Vipers then dominated most of the second period, but the Centennials came out strong in the third.

 

Behind Austin Smith, the Vipers kept the Cents from scoring until they could carry the play to the Cents in the second half of the third period.

 

The two five-minute overtime sessions were surprisingly defensive in tone, with the Centennials managing a slight edge in scoring chances.

 

The scoring story reflected the game’s momentum swings:

  • Early in the first period, Mason Blacklock’s quick snapshot beat Tyler Steel but caromed off the right goal post. At the end of the frame, Sam Johnson’s power play goal gave Merritt a 1-0 lead. Collaborating with Jeff Wight, Johnson snapped a shot over Austin Smith’s shoulder from 12 feet.

  • Cashing in their second period dominance, the Vipers rebounded to take a 2-1 lead. Mason Blacklock was involved in both strikes. At 4:21, he took two strides over the Merritt blue line and ripped a snap shot off the inside of Steel’s right goal post. Then at 8:54, after Blacklock helped win a battle in the Centennial zone so that he could get the puck back to Bryce Eviston, Brendan Persley tipped Eviston’s point shot past Steel.

  • Merritt tied the contest at 14:49 when the rebound of a Dane Birks point shot was flicked in by Regan Soquila.

 

The exciting third period featured a handful of Grade "A" chances by each team, including short handed moves by Merritt’s Silvan Harper and Vernon’s Liam Board. Both goalies were equal to the task.

 

Still, the Centennials almost stole both points with a second remaining in regulation. A high flip pass allowed Payton Schaefer to get a step on the Viper defence, but Austin Smith came to the top of his crease to stop Schaefer’s shot with his shoulder.

 

The Vipers‘ defensive showing was stronger than Vernon’s last visit to Merritt, a 5-0 loss. Jason Reed was impressed with his defensive corps. “They all played well, including Bryce Eviston, who came back into the lineup after missing a couple of games. He was very calm with the puck tonight.”   

Snake Bytes:

* Marc Hetnik (injured) and Mitch McAllister (flu) did not dress for the Vipers.

* Mason Blacklock  has registered 10 points (5 goals and 5 assists) in 8 games since joining the Vipers.