The Merritt Centennials had the best performance on the powerplay of 2020, but the 2/7 performance wasn’t enough to get past the Trail Smoke Eaters as they fell 4-3 in regulation.
The Cents turned in a dominant first period performance on the strength of 5 powerplay opportunities, but they were only able to cash in on one of them as Chase Nameth poked it across the line after a Daniel Tkac shot during a goal mouth scramble. The Cents were outshooting the Smoke Eaters 17-3 before they made a push late in the frame. A point shot from Cody Schiavon got through the crowd to beat Emergency back up Blake Pilon to make it 1-1, and then Diarmad Dimurro would score on a back door feed with 8 seconds remaining to make it 2-1 Trail before the buzzer. Shots after 1 were 17-6 Cents.
The second period saw the Smoke Eaters quickly get out to a two goal edge with Michael Collela sniping a shot blocker side to make it 3-1. Chase Nameth was able to quickly score again on the PP after a set up by Buono and Orchard to bring the Cents within one. Once again with the period getting late the Smoke Eaters would restore the two goal lead with a play off the faceoff to make it 4-2. Shots after 2 were 29-22.
Evan Benwell scored his second goal in as many nights, cashing in on a rebound off a Brody Johnston point shot. It was the young Johnston’s second point in as many nights as well. That brought the Cents back within 1 4-3, but that is as close as they would come. Net empty they weren’t able to get the equalizer late. Final Shots were 38-36 Cents.
After the game, Assistant Coach Paul Barnes said the Cents had their best night on the powerplay, but if it had been slightly better the game may have been different.
“We had the powerplays in the first, but could only get the one goal. If we get another one, especially with those 5-on-3’s it may have changed the course of the game.”
After a West Kelowna win in the shootout, the Cents now trail the Warriors by 5 points for the final playoff spot in the league.