Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cents and Vipers Take 4-4 Tie From Offensive Night In Merritt Saturday:

On multiple occasions on Saturday night, there were chances for either the Merritt Centennials or Vernon Vipers to bury the game and take the two goal lead, but neither club could make the offence happen consistently in a 4-4 tie that had the teams play through ten minutes of overtimes.

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. 

The Cents put up a good chance early in the third as Diego Cuglietta nearly got a puck to go in front of the goal with Wayland Williams providing some smart offensive reads to get the puck on net. Just passed the midway point of the opening frame, Shane Poulsen got a break out pass ahead for Gavin Gould would bounced the back off his skate up to Daniel Nachbaur who released a quick shot that caught Todosychuk off guard, either that or it was just too hard for the Vernon netminder to see. The lead was restored as Poulsen didn't get mentioned for an assist, but Gould did get the assist on the play. Vernon wasn't done as the responding shift by the Cents' had Dane Birks crunch Brendan Persley behind the net but the puck was forced back in to the zone by Persley who fed Dexter Dancs who fed Dexter Dancs with speed over the blue line as Dancs ripped a snap shot home to tie the game at 4. Late in the game, with just under five minutes to go, Adam Tracey and Demico Hannoun picked up coincidental roughing after the whistle after a skirmish in the Viper zone. With Tracey in the box, Hannoun went to the Viper bench, and while being summoned to the penalty box he skated by Willcox at centre and lunged at the Centennial forward with his stick first and struck the Centennial in the head.
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.

Tune in to Tuesday's game on Q101 at 6:30, or go to the game with $5.00 admission for everyone, and drink specials giving you great savings for yourself and friends and family!

See you at the rink!

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