Merritt, BC – The Merritt Centennials (19-24-4-1) have officially clinched a playoff spot for the 2017-18 BCHL Fred Page Cup Playoffs. Merritt currently sits seventh in the Interior Division with 43 points, five points behind the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, but the Centennials have two games in hand.
Last year the Centennials made it into the second round, pushing the eventual Fred Page Cup champion Penticton Vees to a seventh game. The first round saw the Centennials beat the West Kelowna Warriors in a sweep, with game two going to triple overtime.
After sweeping the defending RBC Cup champions, the first time that had ever been done in Canadian Junior Hockey League history, the Centennials had the enviable task of taking on the Vees. Merritt went down 2-0 in the series, losing games one and two by 4-1 scores. Game three saw the Centennials win 5-1 on home ice, before dropping game four 2-1 in overtime. In a must-win situation, the Centennials beat the Vees in the South Okanagan Events Centre 5-4 to send the series back to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
Game six, in front of 1,080 fans, the Centennials forced the Vees to game seven when Tyrell Buckley scored in overtime against his hometown team.
Unfortunately the magic ended in game seven as the Centennials lost 6-2 to end the 2016-17 season. Should Merritt finish in seventh place in the Interior Division, and ahead of the Coquitlam Express in total points, they will enter the playoffs as the first wildcard team and play the second-place team in the Interior Division.