The Merritt Centennials scored their 2nd win in their ‘No Bull’ Ty Pozzobon third jerseys by their second big score 7-4 over the Trail Smoke Eaters.
The offense was flowing early for the Merritt Centennials who after killing a penalty got a goal on the rush after Talon Zakall set up Daniel Tkac back door to open the scoring 1-0 just 2:34 into the game. Michael Collela scored top corner off a faceoff play to tie the game at 1’s just 2 minutes later. Late in the frame, Owen Ozar snuck behind the D to break in all alone from the blue line and dangle in on Winter to make it 2-1, and that’s where the game would be after 20 minutes. Shots after 1 were 13-11 Smoke Eaters.
In the 2nd frame, the Centennials came out flying led by their Captain Rylan Van Unen in his final home game at the NVMA. After putting some early pressure on, the Captain caused a turnover at the blue line then dangled in around a man and then slipped the puck five-hole to make it 2-2. Christian Buono followed that up by flying up the left wing, and despite having an option on the other side, he kept and sniped top corner to restore the Cents lead 3-2. Talon Zakall opened up a 2 goal lead after he jumped up in the rush and Evan Benwell found him back door to make it 4-2 at the 10:05 mark. Brophy Dunne then took a boarding penalty against Collela and the Smoke Eaters’ Chase Dafoe quickly scored on the powerplay to make it 4-3. On the ensuing shift, Owen Ozar danced into the zone and deked out the team but got tied up at the final moment to draw a penalty shot. He made no mistake with the free break in to tie the game 4-4. With the Cents on a powerplay it was the Captain who book ended the period with another goal, this one from the point with traffic in front to restore the one goal edge 5-4. Shots after 2 were 27-24 Smoke Eaters.
In an effort to spark their team, the Smoke Eaters swapped to Logan Terness to start the 3rd period, but the gamble didn’t pay off as Payton Matsui danced to the slot and fired top corner to make it 6-4. On a follow up play, Ben Ward went crashing to the net and Terness was swapped back in favor of Matteo Paler Chow. Ben Ward would add another one for the Cents in the third to make it 7-4, and the despite the Smoke Eaters scoring one late to make it 7-5 the Cents would hang on for the win. Final shots were 37-36 Smoke Eaters.
After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter said he was proud of the guys battling through especially on Mental Health Night.
“The guys got a great fire up speech from Assistant Coach Zach Wright, and came ready to play. From top to bottom everyone was working hard, and we came up with the 60 minute effort again.”
The Centennials will look to finish the season strong against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks tomorrow afternoon at 3pm.