Photo Credit: Garrett James Photography
The Merritt Centennials went to overtime for a 4th straight game in 2019, but this time they couldn’t quite complete the comeback falling 4-3 to the Warriors.
Early on the Cents and Warriors traded chances early on, but it was the Warriors who’d strike first. Andrew Viggars threw a shot from the left point that got past a screened Austin Roden to make it 1-0. The Cents would answer on their first powerplay of the game. Jackson Munro would unload a shot from the left point that had just enough, rolling over the pad of Connor Hopkins and in to tie the game 1-1. After 1 the shots were 16-15.
The middle frame saw the Warriors regain the lead with a two-on-one between Mike Hardman and Bulawka. Bulawka would finish it off low on Roden to make it 2-1. Munro would tie the game with his second on the night with the extra man to get the Cents back level 2-2. The Warriors would pull ahead late in the second on an absolute weird one with the powerplay. The Warriors tried to put the puck back door, and Roden slid across to commit, it would bounce off him, off a defense man and in. An unfortunate end to the period, that could be considered the difference in the game. Shots after 2 were 34-22.
The third period set the stage for what everyone was waiting for. The Cents seemed to be waiting the whole game for the final ten minutes to hit, as they finally turned up the heat on the Warriors and came at them wave after wave. The late push paid off, as Nick Granowicz would draw a penalty, and the Cents would head to the powerplay where they had been deadly on the night. Jaydon Fetter would find Matt Kopperud on the back door, and Kopperud would clap a one-timer to tie the game 3-3. Shots after 3 were 42-39.
In overtime, the Cents got caught on the ice a little too long, and weren’t able to get fresh legs. The Warriors maintained possession and came through on a shot from Mike Hardman who sniped one short-side glove-side on Roden to seal the game for the Warriors.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said he hoped it would be a learning lesson moving forward.
“I think we spent too much time waiting to get our game going. The way we played in the final ten minutes was the way we needed to play the whole game. We need to learn from this as we have some tough games coming up.”
ENERGY PLAYER OF THE GAME: Brad Cocca 0G 1A
3RD STAR: Lucas Cullen 1G 1A
2ND STAR: Jackson Munro 2G 0A
1ST STAR: Mike Hardman 1G 1A