The Merritt Centennials finished their preseason with a win against the Cranbrook Bucks after a complete game effort from the net out led to a 4-2 victory.
Early on it was goaltender Josh Dias leading the way as the Cranbrook Bucks were keeping the pressure on and firing everything on net. The Cents did a good job of keeping the Bucks to the outside and bided their time until a Cranbrook mistake. Rookie goalie Nathan Airey went out to play the puck and Walker Erickson picked the puck off in the right side corner before throwing it out front to a wide open Marlow and the Cranbrook native opened the scoring to make it 1-0. Noah Leibl was able to get the equalizer in the first period. After 1 shots were 23-7 in favour of the Bucks.
In the second period, the Cents started to get their legs underneath them and it was an end to end affair. Chances were good in both zones, but it was the goaltenders who were stealing the day. Walker Erickson stayed red hot and broke the deadlock by scoring a goal of the preseason candidate. Skating off the wall, Erickson chipped it up and over the Bucks defender, juked around the body, then gloved the puck down to his stick and fired it five-hole to make it 2-1. That would be the only goal of a penalty-less 2nd frame. Shots after 2 were 32-23 Bucks.
In the third period the Centennials got into some penalty trouble but were able to weather the storm with some solid defensive play. On one of their first chances in the offensive zone the Cents were able to capitalize after Wyatt Marlow kept the Bucks hemmed into the zone with the body, retrieved the puck and found Liam Visram who fired top corner glove side to make it 3-1 Cents. The Bucks were looking poised to pull the goaltender before they took a penalty for tripping, and the Cents made good on the powerplay. Brandon Dent fired one low blocker with a quick release from the high slot to make it 4-1. The Bucks got one back with 10 seconds left on a man advantage of their own but it wouldn’t be enough as the Cents held on for the 4-2 win. Final shots were 43-32 Cranbrook.
After the game Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the team continues to build to prepare for the regular season.
“The team is definitely continuing to build off the momentum, they’re bonding on the road, and we are starting to figure things out.”
The Centennials preseason has been suspended due to the most recent provincial health order. Keep track of the BCHL and Cents social media for the latest developments.