Cents eke out tight win over Trail

Merritt Centennials edged out Trail Smoke Eaters 5:4 in final Over Time 1 during a pulsating game at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena on Saturday (November 25). Just like their game against West Kelowna Warriors on November 24, the Cents played an almost identical game against Trail. The only difference was that they ended up on the winning side. The Cents were comfortably placed with a 4:1 lead midway into the second period before Trail staged a dramatic comeback to take the game into the sudden death. Sam Grabner’s goal just 32 seconds into the first Over Time sealed the victory for the Cents.

This is the first time in the season the Cents have managed a win over Trail, losing 2:4 to the boys in Orange the last time they met on October 13. Cents coach Brian Passmore lauded the team’s effort. “I am certainly pleased with the way we played tonight. Trail are a good team and the moment you allow them to enter in your zone, it is tough to stop them. We were much better than our previous game (against West Kelowna Warriors). Some of our boys are playing with injuries, so despite that it was fantastic effort,” the coach revealed.

The Cents drew first blood in the couple of minutes as play began when Jaxson Murray, who is in red hot form, deceived the Trail goalie to neatly send the puck in the net after a good assist from Michael Felsing. Trail levelled exactly at half time in the first period through Lucas Marshall. However, their joy was short lived when Cents’ Aiden Lindblad found the net immediately in the next 60 seconds to maintain their dominance in the opening period. Lindblad was well assisted by Nathan Taylor and Dylan Lariviere.

The Cents missed a golden chance to consolidate their lead after Charles Thomas Larochelle missed a penalty shot in the opening period.

The Cents once again showed improvement in power play with Michael Felsing doing a clinical job soon after second period got underway before being forced to sit out for an interference offence. Aiden Lindblad grabbed his second opportunity with both hands, scoring a short handed goal (8:24) to take 4:1 lead. Twenty five seconds later Cents conceded their second goal of the evening after being unable to stop Adam Marshall in the power play.

Although Trail remarkably improved their shots on goal ratio in the second period (18 as compared to just 6 in the first period), the Cents managed to hold fort, thanks to some sharp reflexes from goalie Karlis Mezsargs. Trail steadily recovered through goals from Adam Barone (8:47) and Adam Marshall (19:20) in the second period. Trail then found the equalizer 10 minutes into the final period when Christian Kim managed to breach the Cents’ defence.

Cents coach Brian Passmore was concerned about the team often losing the plot in the third period. “Yes, we have spoken about the attitude in the final period. It has been observed that we are trying to do different things in the last period, which is resulting in conceding goals. It is all about maintaining our focus,” said Passmore.

Game coverage and story by Sport Writer Harit Joshi