The Merritt Centennials didn’t struggle to find the back of the net on Wednesday night as 5 different goal scorers tallied and the Cents hung on to edge the Chiefs in a 5-4 victory.
The opening frame saw the Chiefs score first. After the Cents were on a powerplay, a bobble at the line led to a Brett Rylance breakaway and despite making the first stop, Josh Dias couldn’t stop the rebound and the Chiefs broke out to the 1-0 lead. The Chiefs were pouring it on in throughout the period, but the Centennials D bolstered by he return of Trevor Isaksson to the back end held strong. Late in the period with Zack Dallazanna in the box, Josh Dias made a big stop followed by a fine defensive play from Chase Cooke who swept the puck off the line to save the Cents going down 2-0. Shortly thereafter Talon Zakall found Captain Dallazanna jail breaking out of the box with a pass behind the D, he broke in alone against Caron and beat him with a move to the backhand to tie the game 1-1. As the first buzzer sounded shots were 13-6 Chiefs.
The second period started with a powerplay for the Cents, and it didn’t take them long to convert. Jake McLean feathered a pass cross-ice to find Jerzy Orchard, who one timed it past an out stretched Caron to give the Cents their first lead of the game. Midway through the frame the Cents found themselves on a rare 4-on-1, it appeared they had run out of room when Matteo Pecchia’s shot went wide, but he followed up his own try and threw out front where Jake McLean was able to tally for the Cents to make it 3-1. The Chiefs would score on an odd man rush of their own with Tanner Andrew scoring to make it 3-2. The offense continued a minute later when Brandon Dent was able to steal a puck at the defensive blue line and break in all alone, make a series of dekes and beat Caron to make it 4-2. After 2 the shots were 26-17.
The Cents found a way to hang on in the 3rd period and they needed a little more offense to do so. After breaking into the zone, Brandon Dent took one shot that was blocked, collected his own rebound and fired on net where Matteo Pecchia deflected home his 2nd of the pod season to make it 5-2. The Chiefs wouldn’t go quietly as they got lucky on a Cents own goal credited to Liam Tanner to make it 5-3. Then with the Cents skating back for an icing, they were beaten to the puck, and the Chiefs threw it quickly to the back door where Cam Johnson was waiting to make it 5-4. The Chiefs pulled the goalie to push for the equalizer with 2 minutes remaining, but Josh Dias and the Cents hung on for the win. Final shots were 38-25 Chiefs.
After the game Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the team had a great effort and protected the middle.
“We knew going in that we had to protect the middle against this team, tonight we feel we did that, and it was nice to see everyone chipping in on the offense.”
The Cents will do it again on Friday night. Puck Drop 5PM.