Connor Marritt made it close with a third period goal, but the Vernon Vipers couldn’t catch up to the Nanaimo Clippers Friday night, falling by a score of 3-2.
The game got off to a blistering start at Kal Tire Place with both teams scoring little more than a minute in. Vernon’s Matt Kowalski potted another highlight-reel goal, diving for the puck while on a breakaway set up by Logan Cash, and managing to whack the puck past goaltender Jordan Nayler while falling down.
Nanaimo answered promptly with a goal from Liam Ryan 22 seconds later, assisted by Travis Walton and Tyler Williams. About five minutes later Josh Kagan beat Vipers goalie Reilly Herbst to give his team a 2-1 advantage.
It looked as though the second period would be scoreless until Kagan struck again, scoring his second of the game with 36 seconds left in the middle frame.
The Vipers got one back on their fourth powerplay of the game as Merritt scored 6:40 into the third period. Kowalski had the primary assist, while the second assist came from none other than Herbst. It was the goalie’s third assist of the season.
By the time the final horn sounded Vernon had out-shot Nanaimo 28-21 in a losing effort. The Vipers lost a step to their division rivals, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, who gained a point in their Wednesday overtime loss to the division-leading Penticton Vees. The Vipers now sit two points behind the Backs in the Interior.
Next up for the Snakes is the Trail Smoke Eaters on Sunday, Feb. 9 at Kal Tire Place. After that the Vipers will head to Wenatchee on Valentine’s Day before returning for a three-game homestand.