The Merritt Centennials deserved a better fate on their 3rd try against the Smoke Eaters as they fell by an empty net score of 6-4.
In the first period, the Cents were skating with the Smoke Eaters, Tanner Marshall was doing Tanner Marshall things in net, but the Smoke Eaters finally pulled through with 2 quick goals within a minute to take a 2-0 lead into the 1st intermission. Shots after 1 were 17-12 Smoke Eaters.
The middle frame saw the Cents score their first goal on the powerplay of 2020 to make it 2-1. Hunor Torzsok ripped a shot top corner blocker side in the high slot to get the Cents off the mat and into the game. The Smoke Eaters answered to restore the two goal edge, but Chase Nameth ripped a wrister in the same spot as Torzsok to bring the Cents back within one 3-2. Shots after 2 were 34-23 Trail.
Captain Rylan Van Unen tied the game early at 3’s with a shot past Paler Chow. Van Unen then had some chances shorthanded, but couldn’t convert. The Smokies would add two more, one a bat out of mid-air and another an own goal by the Cents to go up by two. Full credit to the Cents, they didn’t back down and Jerzy Orchard brought the Cents back within one 5-4 for a thrilling finish. It was former Cent Matt Osadick who would ice the game for the Smoke Eaters with an empty netter to make it a 6-4 final. Final Shots were 44-32 Trail.
After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter applauded the teams effort and compete.
“Even with the bench short, we were able to find another gear. I’m proud of the group, and if they continue to bring this effort they aren’t going to be on the losing side too often.”
The Merritt Centennials play next against the Penticton Vees on Friday before returning to Trail on Saturday.