There are those rare times when the magic happens with sports wordplay that just can’t go ignored.
Such was the case Friday night in the BCHL game between the Vernon Vipers and the visiting Merritt Centennials.
Are you ready?
The merit goes to the Vipers Connor Marritt who scored the opening goal against Merritt in a 3-2 win.
That was a long walk for a short drink of water.
Marritt broke up a cross-ice pass as a Vipers penalty was ending and sent a wrister on the short side under goaltender Austin Roden’s blocker to open the scoring at 11:43 in the first period.
The snipe came after plenty of strong lane work by Vipers defenders on the penalty kill, proving once again that if you take care of the little things it often leads to the big thing.
Roden’s blocker was the difference on an odd-man rush during a Vipers power play seven minutes into the second as he quickly shot it out to stop a snapshot that was headed top corner. But, the Vipers capitalized on the next rush.
Their second goal was a power-play tic-tac-toe thing of beauty. Matt Kowalski netted his eighth of the season from a one-touch pass from Jesse Landsell after Jagger Williamson split the defender’s wickets with a no-look feed.
The Centennials made it a one-goal game on the power play 10 minutes into the second. Christian Sabin deflected a shot by Michael Van Unen, with Nicholas Wicks getting the second assist.
Lansdell got his name on the scoresheet again for the Vipers but this time in the penalty column. He caught a Merritt skater with his head down coming out of his own zone and landed a shoulder right on the jaw. That resulted in a two-minute minor for a hit to the head and a 10-minute misconduct. He’ll likely hear from the league on that one.
The Centennials came close to tying it with just over four minutes left in the second period on a slick pass around a defender using the boards, but Vipers netminder Aidan Porter made two strong saves to preserve the lead.
Early in the third, the Vipers got into penalty trouble and had to kill off a two-man advantage. The penalty killers elevated their game with blocked shots, blocked passing lanes and smart dump-outs.
Alex Swetlikoff made it 3-1 Vipers with just over six minutes to go in the third on a power move, going backhand-forehand on an outside-in rush to beat Roden far side.
Merritt brought it back to a one-goal game on a deflected seeing-eye puck with five minutes left. Brady Ziemer got credit for the goal.
Porter made a glove save in close with 1:33 remaining to seal the deal.
The inevitable scrum after the hit on the boards as the horn sounded ended peacefully and the Vipers took the win.
They next face the Wenatchee Wild Saturday night in Vernon. Game time is 6 p.m. It is also the Teddy Bear Toss game, where fans are encouraged to throw a wrapped teddy bear on the ice when the Vipers score to donate to charity.
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