Four different players scored for either team, as the Centennials dropped the extra point back of Salmon Arm in the standings, now with a record of 22-18-4-1. Vernon in the meantime, could have also used the extra point as they settle at 23-15-3-5, which is three points up on Salmon Arm.
The Centennial goal scorers were Scott Patterson, Jeff Wight, Payton Schaefer and Daniel Nachbaur; while the three latter goals all provided Cents leads. Devin Kero made 33 of 37 saves for Merritt.
Vernon got goals from Riley Guenther, TJ Dumonceaux, Logan Mick, and Dexter Dancs while Danny Todosychuk provided solid goaltending with 39 saves.
The next game for the Centennials is a home game on Tuesday night, as the Trail Smoke Eaters are in town for a 7:00 start at the Memorial Arena.
Early in the opening period the Vipers had possession of the puck in the Centennials zone as the puck came back to the blue line on a Wayland Williams scoring chance, and Riley Guenther held the line with a quick shot toward the goal that slipped by Devin Kero just 1:38 in to give Vernon the early lead. Vernon then had a few chances with an odd man rush developing with TJ Dumonceaux on the wing with Demico Hannoun, but the puck dribbled through the crease as Scotty Patterson and Sebastien Pare streaked back the other way but couldn't beat the Vernon goaltender. Off an ensuing Todosychuk save, Rhett Willcox and TJ Dumonceaux's shots at centre turned to fisticuffs as the two dropped the mitts and threw heavy lefts and rights. Dumonceaux may have landed a couple more clear shots, but both players threw 15, at least. Scott Patterson stripped Hannoun off the puck at 10:33 and walked over the blue line with a bullet wrist shot that went top corner to tie the game up. The goal went unassisted and the teams settled for a 1-1 draw after twenty minutes. Shots were 13-11 Vernon.
Just as early in the second period as the first, Jeff Wight converted on a side of the net play with Diego Cuglietta getting the puck behind the goal for Wight, who added his 18th of the season at 1:31. Offense would take a break for a little bit but near the 8:00 mark the Vipers would skate away as the Centennials failed to keep the puck in the zone, Dumonceaux took a drop pass from Hannoun and ripped a low shot past Kero to tie the game up once more at 7:58. El Capitano would give the Cents the restored lead as Payton Schaefer got a pass on the right circle from Patterson on the goal line, as Schaefer put in his 5th of the year with Pare also earning a helper. Shortly after that, Vernon struck again as the Centennials failed on a couple occasions to clear the zone and Logan Mick scooped the puck up in front of Kero and beat the Cents net minder at 11:25 to tie it once more, 3-3 the score after 40 minutes of play. Shots in the period were 12-7 Merritt.
Hannoun then got assessed a five minute high sticking major, and the Centennials had a crucial powerplay for an extended amount of time but a bouncing puck and an on-tee penalty kill from Vernon successfully killed off the entire PIM. Regulation ended with Vernon being outshot 10-9 in the period, but the teams' headed to overtime to try and settle it four on four.
They wouldn't. Despite 10 shots by Merritt and 8 by Vernon, goaltending picked up in the overtime and chances weren't really glorified, as both clubs settled for a tie. The best and nearly the only chance was created off an Adam Tracey shot as the puck trickled past Todosychuk but was cleared from a wide open goal by a Viper at the last moment. Neither team could avoid the tie as Merritt outshot Vernon 43-37.
The Trail Smoke Eaters will be in town on Tuesday night for a 7:00 puck drop. It is the final trip to Merritt for Trail, who will then host the Centennials on Saturday night at Cominco Arena for the final game of the season series.
See you at the rink!