In taking the loss, Devin Kero (32 saves) and the Centennials fell to 16-11-1-1, which is good for 34 points; 3 back of Vernon and 2 back of Penticton.
Hannoun also added an assist, as Austin Smith made all of 31 saves in his 1st shutout of the season. Scoring singles for the 15-7-3-4 Vipers was Chase McMurphy and Colton Sparrow.
Vernon finished the game at 1-for-7 on the man advantage, while the Cents failed to convert on each of their 3 opportunities.
Devin Kero had to be sharp early and often in this one, as the Kal Tire Place crowd of 1600 watched Kero make all but one save in the opening period. Four times Kero had to be sharp in the opening frame, stopping various potential Viper scoring opportunities. One of those plays had Michael Statchuk walk out from the corner in a NHL 14-like play, only in this one the goaltender actually made the save. Vernon did open the scoring as Riley Guenther centred a puck to a fresh legged Colton Sparrow in the slot at 16:09 on the man advantage. Josh Bryan also gathered an assist. Vernon outshot Merritt 12-7 in the period, and led 1-0 in to the dressing room.
The Centennials brewed up some penalty trouble early in the 2nd, as Daniel Nachbaur dropped the mitts and squared up with Dexter Dancs at centre ice, although neither player was really able to free up any arms for too long. Nachbaur received the extra two for instigating, despite the two players both shedding the mitts and sticks at the same time in the defensive zone, before they backed off to centre. Momentum began to get difficult for the Cents to build, and Vernon began to take advantage of mis-reads from Merritt. Near the midway point of the period, Vernon had pressure in the Centennial zone following the expiration of a penalty, and Demico Hannoun added his first of two taking a pass from Michael McNicholas, although Statchuk has been credited with the lone assist. Just 1:29 later, Vernon struck again as Chase McMurphy beat Kero after a face-off in the Viper end which turned in to a crisp Viper break out in to a two-on-one rush with McMurphy and Hannoun, as Sparrow also picked up a helper. Demico Hannoun made it 4-0 when he got a ripped home a snap shot past Kero for his 9th of the season. Shots in the second period were 11-10 Vernon, but the scoreboard showed otherwise.
The third period wasn't much in terms of offensive excitement, although the performance from Devin Kero was nice to see after a tough second period in which Vernon fans got on his back during. Late in the period, the Centennials looked to become frustrated, and Sam Johnson provided the final spark as he dropped the mitts with Mark Hamilton right on the edge of the Viper bench. Johnson was in tough as his one arm was being used to propel himself from falling in to the bench, but he did a good job of avoiding a one-sided tilt and still got in a fair amount of rights.
As Luke Pierce said on the Post Game Show, positives were far and few between but it's not too late for this group to turn that around. 24 hours later they get right back to work and the rest of Friday night was critical for the Saturday night game, in which fans should expect another strong effort from Bennett Huber, Devin Oakes and Payton Schaefer.
Fans are encourage to bring their teddy bears to the game along with a non-perishable food item(or two!) to be donated to the local food bank.
Fans can purchase a Q-Bear during the Q101 fundraiser with help from the Cents Booster Club, which runs from 11:00-1:00 at Spirit Square in downtown Merritt.
Tickets can be purchased at the door, Cooper's and Canadian Tire.