Dawson Holt knows how to make a good first impression.
The Saskatoon native, acquired by the Vernon Vipers earlier in the week from the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats, scored with 54 seconds left in regulation time in his team debut as the Vipers rallied to beat the hometown Merritt Centennials 3-2 in B.C. Hockey League action Wednesday.
It was the Vipers’ second win over the Centennials in six days, having scored a 5-2 win at Kal Tire Place Friday, Oct. 11.
Vernon was down 2-1 heading into the third period before defenceman Jackson Caller scored on a backhand past Centennials goalie Ryan Winter at 10:56, setting the stage for Holt’s last-minute game-winner.
Merritt pulled Winter in an attempt to get the equalizer, but Elan Bar Lev Wise won a pair of key defensive face-offs for the Vipers to help earn the two points.
Captain Connor Marritt scored his fifth of the season in the second period on the powerplay for Vernon, who fired a season-high 44 shots at Winter. Matt Kowalski assisted on all three Vipers goals while Nicholas Kent added two helpers.
Reilly Herbst, making his second straight start, had 29 saves for the Vipers, including stopping a key second-period penalty shot by the Cents’ Payton Matsui, who had been hauled down on a breakaway.
Vernon has won three straight to get back to .500 at 6-6-0-0, good for fifth place in the Interior Division.
The Vipers visit the Penticton Vees Friday and play their final home game in a month Saturday when they host the Trail Smoke Eaters (6 p.m., Kal Tire Place). Vernon will play 11 consecutive road games after Saturday, returning for a Nov. 22 home game against Salmon Arm.
The Silverbacks handed the Vees their second straight loss Wednesday, 4-2, after Penticton had won its first 11 games.
WARRIORS SOLD TO LEAGUE
The BCHL has confirmed that the league has purchased the West Kelowna Warriors but will not provide further details until the deal closes
Owner Kim Dobranski is selling the team back to the league after nearly three seasons of ownership. Dobranski said that the sale came at the right time.
“It was the right deal at the right time and it made sense for everybody,” Dobranski said.
The Warriors have been infamously discussed on the Westside with reported issues among the coaching staff, business partners and city hockey leagues.
While Dobranski admits there have been bumps on the road, they weren’t the reasons for the sale.
“I never intended to be a long-term owner and I look at the positives despite all the challenges,” he said.
“Change is hard and I had to do what I had to do to turn the franchise around and the fact that we have a team and fans, I’m very proud of that.”
—-with files from Kelowna Capital News