Vernon, BC: Matt Kowalski had a goal and an assist including the tying goal late in regulation to force overtime, but it wasn't enough as the Merritt Centennials took the extra point with a 3-2 win in the extra period.
The first period was pretty much even throughout with the shots finishing an even 8-8. Bradley Cooper was solid in the frame making a couple of solid saves. The Cents got on the board first as Nick Granowicz finished off a shot from the slot to make it 1-0. Despite some pressure from the Vipers, the period would end with that score holding up.
In the second, again the Vipers were able to defend well against the high flying Cents. Cooper was again full marks stopping all 13 shots that came his way. The period was penalty filled for both sides and it seemed to really to throw a wrench into both teams momentum. The Vipers PK remained stingy killing off 3 Cent powerplays. The Vipers man advantage struck late in the period a Matt Kowalski shot was kicked out to Connor Marritt who made no mistake to tie the game up at 1 after 2 periods.
The Vipers really took it to the Cents in the third period, but despite the overall pressure found themselves behind as the Cents executed on a 5 on 3 powerplay as Brendan Schneider tapped home a loose puck in the crease. Again, the Vipers defense didn't allow much surrendering just 6 shots total in the period. The parade to the box the Vipers found themselves on at one point flip flopped to the Cents who got themselves in penalty trouble late in the game. The Vipers ended up on a 5 on 3 and after pulling the goaltender to draw even, tied the game at 2 as Matt Kowalski ripped home his 10th of the year.
In overtime, the Vipers had a chance on a powerplay, but couldn't get the victory. With just a handful of seconds left in OT, the Cents scored on a powerplay of their own as Nick Granowicz deflected home a Mathieu Gosselin shot to make the final 3-2.
Here's the scoring summary:
MER - Nick Granowicz (24) - Mathieu Gosselin (25) - 8:24
VER - Connor Marritt (7) - Matt Kowalski (19), Josh Latta (12) - 17:01 - (PP)
MER - Brendan Schneider (13) - Joey Berkopec (10) - 4:39 (PP)
VER - Matt Kowalski (10) - Josh Latta (13), Mitch Andres (14) - 18:39 (PP)
MER - Nick Granowicz (25) - Mathieu Gosselin (26), Jackson Munro (8) - 4:52 (PP)
The Vipers will hit the road for the first time in 2019 on Tuesday to face the Surrey Eagles at 7pm.