On the night that Canada Hockey announced the Penticton Vees would host the 2021 Centennial Cup, the Vernon Vipers were at the South Okanagan Events Centre to spoil the party.
The snakes beat the Vees on the road 2-1 in overtime with defenseman playing the hero, scoring just over three minutes into extra time.
Helping the Vipers get that far was Brett Fudger, who scored his first goal in the BCHL to get the Vipers on the board.
The game got off to a sluggish start with neither team generating much in the way of scoring chances in the first period. The Vees were the first to get a powerplay advantage, but it was the Vipers who got the best opportunity after Dawson Holt was sprung on a breakaway. Vees tender Yaniv Perets shut the door on the chance to keep the game scoreless.
Midway through the first frame the Vipers went up on the man advantage, and Matt Kowalski centred a pass to Fudger who managed to lift the puck past Perets for his first tally, and the first of the game.
The save of the game came towards the end of the first, when Vipers goalie Reilly Herbst denied Tristan Amonte on a cross-ice pass to preserve the lead.
Herbst was kept busy in the second period with the Vees racking up 21 shots in the middle frame. The story of the period was the Vipers’ penalty kill, which killed off three Vees powerplays thanks in part to some huge shot blocks by Landon Fuller and Brendan Kim.
The Vees found the equalizer in a third period filled with chances and stellar goaltending on either side. Just over 11 minutes in a pass by Danny Weight pass slid through the legs of Herbst and was poked in by Alex DiPaolo to tie the game at a goal apiece.
In overtime it was all Vipers, who prevented any scoring chances against them. Vipers’ winger Cam MacDonald was robbed by the Perets and the skate of defenseman Jackson Niedermayer early on, but the away team would keep the pressure coming.
On the next shift and a shot from Kowalski handcuffed Perets with Christian Felton driving the net, and Felton managed to poke in the loose puck to give the Vipers the extra point and a 2-1 win.
The Vipers are now on a four-game win streak, which they’ll look to keep going against the Trail Smoke Eaters at home on Saturday night.