The first period saw no goals scored, but Jackson Niedermayer left the game after taking a heavy hit from Vipers defenceman Landon Fuller along the boards. Fuller was given a two minute boarding call on the play. Niedermayer didn’t return for the rest of the night.
After a scoreless first period, Lukas Sillinger opened the scoring for the Vees. As he and Ryan Sandelin came into the Vernon zone two-on-one, Sillinger took the pass from Sandelin on his forehand before pulling it to his backhand and sliding it past Vipers netminder Bradley Cooper just 52 seconds into the second period.
The Vees had numerous power play chances over the course of the game, but the Vipers fended them off including five power play opportunities where the Vees had the man advantage.
“If we could have scored a power play goal we probably could have put the game away a little earlier. As a staff we were talking between the second and third that we knew we needed to get that next goal. We had a lot of zone time but it was something we couldn’t finish,” said Harbinson.
Against the flow of play the Vipers tied the game. After blocking a James Miller slap shot near the blue line, the Vipers skated ahead into the Vees zone.
A three-way passing play ended with Josh Latta redirecting a centring pass past Jack Lafontaine and into the net to tie the game with 11:11 remaining in regulation.
With under a minute to go in the final frame, Jack Lagerstrom came into the Vernon zone down the right wing and threw the puck on net. Cooper fumbled the puck and couldn’t catch it, so the rebound came right to the slot where Loheit was heading and he was able to get his stick on it and put it into the open net to give the Vees the lead with just 53 seconds left.
The goal stood up as the winner as the Vees outshot the Vipers 37-24 and held on for the 2-1 win.
The Vees now wrap up the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule with a home-and-home series against the West Kelowna Warriors (22-14-0-1) beginning Friday at the SOEC.
Following the conclusion of Friday’s game, Cassidy Bowes and long-time Vees season ticket holder Jon Race will have their hair cut on the ice to signal the end of Bowes’ GoFundMe campaign, raising money for children’s cancer research.
The Vipers hit the road for a double-header against the Wenatchee Wild on Dec. 21 and 22 before they break until Jan. 4.
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