The shot count and scoring chances were there, but the end result was not for the Vernon Vipers Friday night in Merritt.
Vernon outshot the host Centennials 38-22, and generated at least eight odd-man rushes, but they couldn’t solve netminder Johah Imoo in a 4-0 loss before 873 B.C. Hockey League fans.
“I saw the compete level was better,” said Vipers’ head coach Mark Ferner. “We had opportunities, no question. And we didn’t give them many scoring chances.
“That’s a tough place to play in. Our kids worked hard, but we needed some key saves and didn’t get them.”
Merritt, tied for the Interior lead with Penticton and West Kelowna at 4-1, clicked twice on the powerplay, one by second star Gavin Gould (1+2), the other from third star John Schiavo. Imoo, named first star for his 28-save effort, left the game in the final minute of the second period after tweaking a leg muscle in going cross-crease to rob Liam Coughlin on a back-door play.
Anthony Pupplo kept the clean sheet with 10 saves. Jarrod Schamerhorn had 18 stops for Vernon, who are last in the Interior at 2-3-0-1. The Snakes entertained the 1-4 Cowichan Valley Capitals Saturday night at Kal Tire Place.
Ferner is willing to be patient for now, and wants to give his players a chance to prove themselves before making any roster changes.
“I came here not knowing any of the kids,” he said. “My job is to start making them better. There’s no quick fix here. We just have to be patient. But I don’t care where you played last year, you have to buy in.”
Meanwhile, in KIJHL play Friday night in Armstrong, the host North Okanagan Knights fell 5-2 to the Columbia Valley Rockies.
The Rockies (1-5) racked up four unanswered goals en route to their first win of the season. Ryan Lawson scored shorthanded, on the powerplay and again at even strength to lead the Columbia attack.
Sean Emmerson bagged a shorty for the 2-5-0-2 Knights, who got a late powerplay single from newcomer Zackari Andrusiak.
Brody Nelson made 25 saves for the win. Brady Lenardon was relieved by Mitch Profeit (19 saves) after allowing four goals on 10 shots.
The Knights visit the Princeton Posse (2-3-1-2) Wednesday.