Callum Volpe of the Vernon Vipers (left) battles Tyrell Buckley of the Merritt Centennials Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

Callum Volpe of the Vernon Vipers (left) battles Tyrell Buckley of the Merritt Centennials Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

Vernon Vipers fall to fifth place with loss to Merritt

Centennials' 3-2 victory over Vernon Friday, along with Trail's 6-3 win over Salmon Arm, leaves Vipers in fifth place, a point behind Trail

Colin Grannary moved into a tie for the team lead in goals when he scored his 19th at 8:40 of the third period to give the Merritt Centennials a 3-2 B.C. Hockey League win over the Vernon Vipers Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

The loss, coupled with the Trail Smoke Eaters’ 6-3 win at home Friday over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, dropped the Vipers out of a playoff spot in the Interior Division, one point behind fourth-place Trail.

Nick Jermain, on a powerplay, and Ryan Forbes staked the Centennials to a 2-0 first-period lead.

Latrell Charleson and Christian Cakebread scored second-period powerplay markers for the Vipers.

Cole Kehler made 31 saves to pick up the win in goal for Merritt. Andrew Shortridge took the loss for Vernon.

The Vipers close out the first half of the season with a game Sunday afternoon at 2 against the Powell River Kings at Kal Tire Place.

See Sunday’s Morning Star for more details on Friday’s game.

Meanwhile, Vipers forward Liam Finlay will play for gold Saturday at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Cobourg, Ont.

Finlay and his line mates Tyson Jost of the Penticton Vees and Joseph Nardi of the Alberta League’s Whitecourt Wolverines combined for nine points in the third period Thursday night to lead Canada West to an 8-5 semifinal win over Canada East.

Canada West plays Russia in the championship game.

“We had a good push back,” said Nardi. “Every time they answered, we answered back, and I thought that showed a lot of character. You have to give a lot of credit to Canada East, they played a really good game, but I’m proud of our team and excited to play for a gold medal.”

Canada West and Canada East combined for a record nine goals in the final 20 minutes.