It looked as though the Vernon Vipers were going to fall short despite putting in a strong effort versus the Prince George Spruce Kings on Friday night, but a theatrical third period changed the game’s storyline in the final moments.
Connor Sleeth scored with 17 seconds remaining in the third period to give the Snakes a 2-1 victory at home in a game in which they out-shot their opponent 37-19.
The rebound goal was Sleeth’s fifth of the season and came after the Vipers forced a turnover in the neutral zone.
Prince George goaltender Carter Woodside was stellar, pitching a shutout through two and a half periods of play while the Spruce Kings held on to a 1-0 lead provided by Corey Cunningham on a partial breakaway 16 minutes into the second period.
After failing to score on a dangerous-looking powerplay early in the third period, it was Connor Merritt who broke the shutout bid with roughly nine minutes left in regulation. The goal came shortly after another powerplay had expired.
With only a few seconds left on the game clock to kill after Sleeth’s late goal, the Vipers got a shot block from Nick Kent to nullify the Spruce King’s lat scoring chance of the game.
“I liked our start,” said Vipers coach Jason McKee in the post-game interview with Graham Turnbull. “(We were) probably unfortunate not to get a couple in the first.”
The Vipers are in Penticton tonight to face the Vees – their fifth game in nine days. The South Okanagan Events Centre is hosting a food bank fundraiser, and fans in attendance are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to the game.