The Merritt Centennials stormed back after a rough start to come within a goal in a barn burner against the Chiefs in a 6-5 final.
In the first period the Chiefs could do no wrong, and the Centennials were a little too soft defensively. The Chiefs opened the scoring with Tanner Andrew barging up the middle and sniping to make it 1-0. Ethan Bowen potted a pair back to back to make it 3-0, and Liam Tanner got another to make it 4-0 before the Cents came to their senses. Trevor Isaksson would have the answer for the Cents as he fired a wrister from the right point that fooled Gullmes and made it 4-1 before time wound down in period 1. Shots after 1 were 15-14 Chiefs.
After a talking to in the dressing room the Centennials came to play in the 2nd. Walker Erickson was able to blow down the right wing after a Chiefs defender blew a tire, and roofed a shot short side on Gullmes to make it 4-2. Trevor Longo would fool Dias with a shot from the point to regain the 3 goal lead at 5-3, but the Cents would answer on the ensuing shift when a behind the battle bounced out front to a wide open Blake Astorino who tallied his first BCHL goal with a blast past Gullmes. Former Cent Jackson Munro would add one on the powerplay to restore the 3 goal lead 6-3 before the end of the frame. Shots after 2 were 31-24.
The Cents finally bucked their powerplay slump in the 3rd period due to some great work from Alex Ochitwa and the 2nd unit. Ochitwa repeatedly recollected the puck and fed Brandon Dent for one timers, and 3rd time was lucky as Dent got the Cents within 2 with just 5 minutes gone in the third. Matteo Pecchia scored his team leading 4th to get the Cents within one with 7 minutes to play, but try as they might the Centennials couldn’t get the equalizer for yet another night and would fall just short 6-5. Final shots were 39-35 Chiefs.
After the game Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter applauded the teams effort in the final 40, but was disappointed with the opening 20.
“There were a lot of things to like about the final 40 minutes, but the game is 60 minutes. You don’t win many games spotting the other team 4 goals in the first period. We were soft, and had some mental lapses, we need to figure out how to start on time.”
The Cents will look to do just that when they play the Spruce Kings on Sunday 5PM.