The Vernon Vipers appeared to have used up their shootout magic after dropping their second go-around on Friday against the Langley Rivermen.
The Rivermen may have done some homework on Vipers’ goaltender Reilly Herbst, who stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout last night against Prince George to cap off a sparkling .975 save percentage.
On Friday the Rivermen scored goals on two of their five shootout attempts – good enough to one-up the Vipers’ lone shootout goal provided by Connor Marritt.
The game started out with the Vipers on their back foot, taking three straight penalties after some early pressure by the Rivermen. Seconds after the first penalty expired, Langley’s Kalen Szeto sent a slap pass to the stick of Joseph Musa who deflected it home to get the Rivermen out to an early 1-0 lead.
On their third penalty kill in a row, Marritt forced a turnover and set up Dawson Holt, who put the dekes on Langley goaltender Braedon Fleming for a shorthanded tally.
Then it was the Vipers’ turn to score shortly after one of their penalties expired. With six minutes left in the period, Matt Kowalski ripped a puck from the right circle that bounced off a Langley defenceman and past Fleming to make it a 2-1 Vipers lead after the first period.
The Vipers out-shot Langley 15-7 in the second period, but it was the latter team that would add to the scoreboard in the middle frame with Matthew Hubbarde snapping home a centering pass to knot the game at two apiece.
The goaltending at each end of the rink became elevated in the third period, as both teams had their chances to take the lead and both goalies were up to the challenge. The best chance came from Viper Elan Bar-lev-Wise on an individual effort in the final minute, but Fleming denied him with the pad to send the game to overtime.
The extra five minutes yielded no result, but not for a lack of trying on the part of the Vipers who sustained pressure on a powerplay and rang a puck off the goal post. Five shooters later, the Rivermen walked away with the shootout victory.
Friday’s game was the first for Hunter Donohoe in a Vipers’ uniform. The 19-year-old defenceman was acquired in a trade for future considerations with the Chilliwack Chiefs on Thursday.
After the loss the Vipers are now 13-9-1-1 on the season and sit in fourth place in the Interior standings.
The Vipers will finally cap off an 11-game road trip tonight when they face off against the league-leading Coquitlam Express (20-5-0-0) at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre.