The Merritt Centennials didn’t leave anything in the tank, but they waited too long to get on the gas pedal as they suffered a 4-2 defeat to the Trail Smoke Eaters.
The first period was a lot slower than many of the Cents faithful who packed the barn would have hoped for. After coming out flying in games 1 and 2, the Cents stumbled out of the gate in game 5. They only managed 8 shots in the period, and gave up a breakaway for the Smoke Eaters first goal at the 9:47 mark of the first. Mack Byers scored his 3rd goal of the series, and his 3rd goal on Cents ice to give the Smoke Eaters the 1-0 lead after 1.
The middle frame saw the Cents perform better, but not get rewarded on the scoreboard. Once again it was a breakaway that was the Cents undoing. This time it was Owen Ozar who went in all alone and beat Roden down low. Roden redeemed himself on a 2-on-1 to keep the Cents within striking distance, and really wasn’t at fault for any goal scored on the night. The Cents would finish the 2nd period behind 2-0.
In the third, the Cents had to kill off an early penalty, but then got to work offensively. They drew two penalties in quick succession and then got to go to the PP. At the 4:07 mark with the Cents cycling the puck around the horn with the two man advantage Mike Van Unen unloaded a lazer to make it a 2-1 game, and reach half his goal total for the year in 5 games of the post season alone. Then just as the second penalty was expiring Brad Cocca sent a blast top corner over the shoulder of Buskey to tie the game at 2. The Cents looked to be in the driver seat, but once again on the counterattack the Smoke Eaters proved why they’re so dangerous. Bryce Anderson was left alone in front of the net and put a backhander behind Roden to give the Smoke Eaters the one goal edge, and try as they might the Cents couldn’t find the equalizer again and surrendered an empty netter late to drop the game 4-2.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said that he wasn’t happy with the end result, but the journey was one of the best so far.
“I think this team did some amazing things this year, we had a great core, great graduating players. It’s never the way you want it to end unless you go all the way, but I feel the work we did this year will improve the Centennials program moving forward.”
The Cents would like to thank all of their graduating players: ‘O Captain My Captain’ Nick Wicks free wheels on to Alaska – Anchorage, Assistant Captain Brendan Schneider will bring his never ending energy to Mercyhurst, Assistant Captain Nick Granowicz will get his ‘Game On’ at the University of Michigan, Brad Cocca stick handles to Brown, Mathieu Gosselin ‘The Goose’ will fly to Clarkson, Christian Sabin is grinding out a deal himself, Austin Roden will tend the crease for Nebraska-Omaha, and Mike Van Unen will bring his mobile defense to Northern Michigan,