Friday’s game between the Vernon Vipers and the Surrey Eagles affirmed at least one truth about the Animal Kingdom: snakes don’t match up well against birds of prey.
That’s not to say the team hasn’t defied that analogy in the past; the Vipers won their previous matchup with Surrey this season a few weeks ago. But on Friday the Eagles made them pay on special teams, scoring on two of their three powerplays in the game while shutting down the Vipers’ three powerplay attempts, en route to a 4-3 victory at Kal Tire Place.
The teams were quick out of the gate with scoring chances developing at each end of the rink. The Eagles drew first blood with Cristophe Tellier tapping in a backdoor feed from Jimmy Darby for his 14th goal of the season. The Vipers answered with a goal of their own off the stick of Matt Kowalski, who found a bouncing puck in the slot and buried it 83 seconds after the Eagles goal.
Then on their 18th shot of the first period Dawson Holt fired a shot from the right circle to give the Vipers a 2-1 lead with just 27 seconds left on the clock.
In the second period Surrey goaltender Thomas Scarfone weathered an early storm generated by the Vipers’ offence. His play would prove pivotal, as the Eagles would go on to capitalize on a powerplay goal late in the period from Brandon Santa Juana, evening things at two goals apiece.
The Vipers continued to mount pressure midway through the third, but against the flow of play it was Surrey’s Brett Bliss who fired a point shot that pinballed around on its way to the net and found the twine.
But just eight seconds later Matt Kowalski cashed in some early Christmas magic, cutting down the left wing and sniping one over the blocker of Scarfone. It was a great individual effort and his second goal of the game. More importantly, it evened the score at 3-3.
The tying goal didn’t last long. The Eagles got the go-ahead on another powerplay goal, and on yet another unfortunate bounce. A puck bouncing around in the slot area landed on the stick of Surrey’s Christophe Tellier who knew exactly what to do with it.
The Vipers dropped to fifth in their division with the loss though they have two games in hand over the Wenatchee Wild who lead them by two points in the Interior.
The Vipers are in Salmon Arm for a game against the Silverbacks Saturday night. The puck drops at 6 p.m. at the Shaw Centre.