The Merritt Centennials survived a thriller at the NVMA against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs to win 5-4.
The Cents started slow in the first, but executed when they got their chances. Nick Granowicz opened the scoring 9:34 into the period on the heels of a powerplay, Brad Cocca drove wide on a wrap around and Granowicz found the loose puck in front to give the Cents the 1-0 edge. Granowicz would do the same thing again 5 minutes later, and Cocca would set him up again to make it 2-0. Christian Sabin scored his first in an age off a drive that started with Granowicz driving wide and then throwing it in front. Once again it was Sabin who found the garbage in front. The Dogs retaliated with a garbage goal of their own late in the first to make it 3-1 after 1. Vincent Duplessis made his 3rd start in a row for the Cents, and John Hawthorne got the nod for the Dogs. Shots were 17-11 after the first.
In the second, the referees loomed larger than either team. Penalties back and forth made it difficult for either team to get settled, and the Bulldogs would get the lone goal of the second to cut the lead to 3-2 after 2. Shots were 28-22 after two periods of play.
The third started with Granowicz completing the hat trick bid. Unassisted on the powerplay he stole the puck in the slot, skated to the right side, and beat Hawthorne mid-glove side to give the Cents a 4-2 edge. The game turned on it’s head at the 9:17 mark when Keaton Mastrodonato scored off a giveaway to make it 4-3. Just 9 seconds later the Bulldogs would score again to tie it up. The Cents still had a bit left in the tank, and Captain Nick Wicks really turned his game up to another level. He was sent in behind the D, got a shot away, and once again it was the follow up that converted. Brendan Schneider would score the eventual game-winner at the 2:05 mark. The Cents and Duplessis would hang on to pick up the win, and pick up 3/4 points on the weekend. Final shots were 42-30 in favour of the Bulldogs. The Cents went 2/8 on the powerplay.
Energy Player of the Game:
Brad Cocca – 0 goals 3 assists
3 stars of the Game:
3. Vincent Duplessis – 38 saves on 42 shots
2. Evan Googins – 1 goal 1 assist
1. Nick Granowicz – 3 goals, 1 assist
After the game, Joe Martin was pleased with the win, but felt there was more to work on.
“I don’t want to sound down after a win, but I think there’s a lot of things that we could’ve done better in this game. We had trouble finding a second line that was giving us as much as the Granowicz line, our team needs to all be pulling in the same direction.”
The next game is next week when the Vernon Vipers come to town. 7pm puck drop, 6:45 pre-game from the NVMA.