It took 11 games of great effort to finally hit the back of the net as Josh Latta converted for his first goal as a Vernon Viper. The West Vancouver product has come about as close as one could come to scoring, without putting one in, but his 8th of the season proved to be the game winner and the Viper powerplay lit the lamp three times to pace the Vernon Vipers to a 4-1 win over the Merritt Centennials.
The first period was extremely competitive as both teams brought their skating legs. Both coaches rolled 4 lines and it wasn’t long before every player got involved. The Vipers had a pair of quality scoring chances as Brett Stapley was robbed on two separate occasions by Jake Berger who made a shoulder save on the first chance, then glove hand larceny off Stapley again this time from the right circle. The Vipers killed off a Merritt powerplay, then took advantage of a powerplay of their own as Jimmy Lambert deflected home a point shot from Chris Jandric. The Vipers would hit the dressing room after 20 minutes leading by a goal.
Early on in the second period, Cameron Trott pinched down into the right corner and fed Josh Latta in front and after a few whacks, hit the back of the net for his first goal as a member of the Vipers. The penalty kill was thrust back into action for a 7 minute segment as they killed off 3 straight Merritt powerplays. Impressive kills followed as the Cents managed just 5 shots in those 3 man advantages. Another late powerplay for the Vipers resulted in yet another goal as a near carbon copy of the first was set up. This time it was a shot from Jack Judson tipped by Jesse Lansdell past Jacob Berger to give the Vipers a 3-0 lead after two periods.
The Viper powerplay was feeling it on this night, as Brett Stapley hammered home a rebound at the bottom of the left circle to make it 4-0. Ty Taylor wasn’t overly busy through 40 minutes, but was called upon early and often in the third period including a big save off of Zach Risteau and another off Brendan Schneider. The Cents would get a late powerplay and finally buried on a hot shot from Jackson Munro. The Vipers would get to the final buzzer with a solid 4-1 win to kick off a three game homestand.
The Vipers are now off from game action for 7 days as they will welcome the Chilliwack Chiefs Wednesday February 7th.