Liam Finlay’s seventh goal of the season, set up on a powerplay by Odeen Tufto and Mitchell Oliver, with 4:30 left in regulation time gave the Vernon Vipers a 5-3 B.C. Hockey League win over the Merritt Centennials Saturday at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
The win, coming 24 hours after a 3-0 decision at Kal Tire Place, gave the Snakes a sweep of the home-and-home tilt with the Cents.
Captain Colton McCarthy scored a shorthanded empty-net goal with eight seconds left to secure the two points.
The Centennials, blanked by B.C. Hockey League player of the week, Vipers goalie Andrew Shortridge, opened Saturday’s scoring with a powerplay goal from Nick Jermain at 18:55 of the opening Frame.
The Vipers responded after the intermission with goals from defenceman Bo Pellah (second of the year) and Jagger Williamson (first), and a powerplay marker from Oliver (first).
The Cents got one back with the man advantage at 18:02 from Michael Faulkner, then tied the game 3-3 on a powerplay early in the third from Nick Fiorentino.
Merritt was 3-9 with the man advantage, Vernon 2-4.
“I thought we responded and channelled our energy in a good way,” said head coach Mark Ferner, noting the discrepancy in penalty calls. “It was an emotional win, which you don’t mind seeing as a coach.”
Shortridge has won his last four starts, allowing six goals and stopping 153 of 159 shots. The Eagle River, Alaska product, who has committed to Quinnipiac next season, is 7-3 on the year with a 2.15 goals against average and a .930 save percentage to sit fifth among league goalies.
The Vipers (8-6-0-1) are third in the Interior Division, one point behind the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and one ahead of fourth-place West Kelowna.
The Warriors visit Kal Tire Place Friday at 7 p.m. as the Vipers kick off a four-game home stand.
The Victoria Grizzlies (2-9-0-2) play in Vernon Saturday at 6 p.m.