The Merritt Centennials had a tough 49 second span in the first period and couldn’t come back from the 3 goal turn in an eventual 5-3 loss to the West Kelowna Warriors.
The Cents had a number of young players in the lineup and early on you wouldn’t know it. It wasn’t until the Centennials went to the penalty kill that they showed sign of weakness. The Warriors quickly went to a two man advantage, and quickly scored a pair of goals to make it 2-0. After going back to even strength, West K would add another one and in the span of 49 seconds the Cents found themselves down 3-0. The Cents opted to pull Tanner Marshall in favour of Ryan Winter to energize the bench. The move paid off as Thomas Manty would answer for the Centennials with a quick shot blocker side on Derrick to make it 3-1 with Orchard and AP Brett Mero setting him up. The Warriors would get another tally by beating Winter down low, five hole to make it 4-1. Late in the frame, Evan Benwell danced into the zone made a deke to the backhand and was stoned on the line, but Jake McLean followed up the play to push it across for the goal to make it 4-2. Shots after 1 were 14-10 West K.
Things slowed down in the 2nd period as teams traded chances, and Derrick came up with a number of quality stops to keep his team in the lead. The Centennials went to the PP, but it wasn’t the turning point they were hoping for as Carter Wilkie would score short handed to make it 5-2. It would stand up as the only goal of the period despite the increased pressure from the Cents. Shots after 2 were 25-23 Warriors.
Rylan Van Unen got the Centennials within two in the final frame, but the goal came too little too late with 6 minutes to go. Try as they might, the Cents couldn’t find more offense and the Warriors would hang on for the win. Final shots were 37-32 Cents.
After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the team needs to make sure their start is better.
“You can’t start a game like that, especially on home ice. If we want to have success we need to keep ourselves in the game early on and not be chasing all night.”
The Cents will look for a better result tomorrow as they are now just 1 point ahead of the Warriors for the final playoff spot in the BCHL.